PTO doesn't 'monkey' around when replacing playground equipment at Richland Elementary

| Wednesday, March 6, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

By the time the ground thaws and the weather warms, Richland Elementary School students will have a new piece of playground equipment to climb on.

Pine-Richland School Board accepted a gift of almost $12,000 from the Richland Elementary School Parent Teacher Organization to remove a set of monkey bars at the school playground and replace it with a multi-level climbing structure.

“Once we got the ball moving and figured out if we had the money, we really scrambled to get this off the ground,” said Lisa DeFoggia, Richland Elementary PTO president.

The Richland Elementary PTO learned district officials wanted to remove a set of monkey bars that existed from when the building housed kindergarten through fifth grade students.

The equipment no longer was appropriate after Eden Hall Upper Elementary School opened in 2008 and Richland Elementary became a school for students in kindergarten through third-grade.

The PTO had a reserve fund from previous school fundraising programs and the organization agreed to donate $11,842.17 to cover the cost to remove the monkey bars and install a linear “intensity structure” through Snider & Associates, Inc and Burke Premier Play Environments.

The new playground piece will include six climbing obstacles set up in a linear design to enable students to play on one part or climb through the entire structure.

“We are replacing something that is higher off the ground but still giving them a piece of equipment they want to use,” DeFoggia said.

The school board unanimously accepted the donation at its Monday, Feb. 25, meeting.

“I was thrilled,” said Gene Nicastro, Richland Elementary principal, about the donation. “Obviously, nowadays, with how school budgets are constructed, if it's something we decided to do on our own, as a district, I don't think we would have been able to afford anything as elaborate or nice.”

Because the PTO is donating the money for the project, the district anticipates installation of the new equipment to be complete by April and available for the more than 450 current kindergarten to third-graders to play on.

“One of the other major benefits,” said Nicastro of the donation, “(is) our current third graders are able to enjoy the equipment.”

The PTO and school district administration plans to introduce the students to the piece of equipment with posters at one of the main entries to the playground.

“They'll be thrilled,” Nicastro said. “Anytime you have something new, kids get excited about it.”

“I think it's a piece of equipment they'll really enjoy.”

Bethany Hofstetter is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6364 or

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