Stop being adversaries on ‘crumb’ issue | Editorial

Crumb rubber is messy. It smells. It’s impossible to drive a wheelchair through it to get to the playground equipment.

On those points, everyone agrees. And both sides on the issue — parents who want crumb rubber replaced, and the school district which can’t afford to replace it — need to take a breath and realize the lessons here.

First, there’s no need for adversaries on this issue. Nobody chose crumb rubber because it stinks and prohibits children with physical challenges from getting to the playground equipment. It was chosen because it provides the best safety in the event of a fall. The negative aspects of crumb rubber became apparent after it was installed.

Second, parents share responsibility for the fact that the crumb rubber was placed. The playground equipment was purchased by the PTA with funds raised by the community, and crumb rubber was selected over wood chips as a playground surface (the previous surface was gravel) by the PTA and the principal. The school district contributed $10,000 for the purchase of the playground surface.

Parents share responsibility because they: 1. Participated in PTA meetings in which crumb rubber was discussed and selected. 2. Didn’t participate in PTA meetings in which crumb rubber was selected, and should have voiced their concerns then, not after the fact. It points to the importance of participating in public meetings and being a part of the process. That, perhaps, is the most important lesson of all.

Now, there are attempts under way to force the school district to replace the crumb rubber at district (that means taxpayer) expense, at a time when our schools face $717,000 in budget cuts for 2009-10. Parents should share the cost or find ways to replace the crumb rubber without causing more financial burden on the district. A task force is meeting to attempt to do that.

We believe the crumb rubber playground surface should be replaced. But we believe we can do it as partners for progress, not as adversaries.

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