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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Elementary school PTA raised $45K after NHC schools shuts down playground

The DA along with Sheriff have requested an outside investigation into allegations against New Hanover County Schools administration. (Port City Daily photo/Johanna Ferebee)

NEW HANOVER COUNTY — A playground sits roped off on the Anderson Elementary School campus after it was deemed unsafe, but the school’s PTA has jumped in to make sure that doesn’t last for long.

READ MORE: ‘We’re paying for it’: $4.5-million ask coming to county, as schools district breaks down employee cuts

The Anderson Elementary PTA has raised $45,000 to replace one of six playgrounds at the school after New Hanover County Schools maintenance operations staff shut down the playground a couple weeks ago.

According to district spokesperson Salvatore Cardella, staff found some of the equipment was rusting and in disrepair, along with lacking sufficient protective surfacing on the equipment. School-level staff assess playgrounds and fields daily for potential risks, but operations staff are certified playground inspectors who regularly conduct thorough safety inspections at every school. These inspections are regulated at the national level. 

The Anderson Elementary playground was discovered to be out of compliance, the district closed that portion of the school’s outdoor playgrounds to preserve student safety.

The district estimates the cost of replacing the structure in excess of $65,000 due to its age and ability to readily acquire replacement parts. 

“The district does not currently have funding allocated for the replacement, and it will need to be considered in the capital budget,” Cardella wrote via email to Port City Daily. 

The district is already struggling to garner funding for its extensive list of necessary capital repairs, requests from schools totalling $40 million. The New Hanover County commissioners provide around $3.8 million traditionally, but this year the district is requesting around $5 million more to cover essential projects, including $3.5 million in structural repairs at New Hanover High School and roof repairs across multiple campuses. 

The district lauded the dedication of Anderson’s PTA. 

“PTAs are important partners for our schools and often are able to provide resources and opportunities for our students beyond what’s in our budget,” Cardella wrote. “The Anderson school community is fortunate to have the support of the PTA, which is so active, dedicated, and involved.”

Although the playground is shuttered for the time being, the district noted Anderson has additional play areas, so students are still able to enjoy recess. 

Per Cardella, all other playgrounds in the district passed inspection and remain open.

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