Originally created 08/24/04

Board says it will fix issues



Parents and teachers were promised a quick resolution to playground safety issues during a school council meeting Monday at T. Harry Garrett Elementary School.

The Board of Education will have the playground inspected, and the school board will handle any repairs, said James Thompson, the district's deputy superintendent.

"The PTA won't have to take care of it. We will take care of it," he said, without specifying a timeline.

Children were ordered not to use the playground after a city parks and recreation official informed school officials of his safety concerns. The Recreation Department shares a gym with the school on Eisenhower Drive.

School board member Ken Echols Sr. said Friday that some of the building materials could contain toxic substances. That news led to Monday's meeting in the cafeteria, where about 50 parents, teachers and children gathered to hear an update. Mr. Echols did not attend.

PTA President Nichol Sands told parents that the PTA did not install any of the wooden equipment that the school board is worried about.

"That old wooden equipment has been in our playground for at least 12 years. The renovated part of the playground is brand-new equipment that was purchased from a reputable playground equipment company. There is nothing toxic about it," she said.

Ms. Sands said concerned Garrett parents removed dilapidated equipment themselves to protect children.

"We solved our own erosion and flooding problem by paying a professional contractor to contour the land, a problem that has been put before the board for many years with no resolution implemented," she said.

Ms. Sands and Garrett Principal Mary Alice King said the school board now appears willing to help solve the problem.

But some parents seemed skeptical Monday. One asked if she would have to wait another year, "like we did before." Another worried that the PTA would have to hold more fund-raisers.

"I think the parents have to take a deep breath," said Pam Wilkins, a member of Garrett's school council. "The council will bug them to death if we have to until it gets done."

Teacher Melinda Starnes said children would have to find a different location to play.

"You have to go back to the old days," she said, "when they played tag."