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The Dover Area school board carefully weighed options before approving the replacement of outdated equipment at its elementary school playground.

There was some disagreement at the board's June 19 meeting over whether or not the school's parent teacher organization had explored all options for funding or procured the least expensive pricing.

And one crucial point was: Is this needed now?

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The Leib Elementary PTO is contributing $20,000 to the project, while the board is putting up $40,717 to fund the removal and re-installation of equipment and the replacement of "wood carpeting," or mulch.

"It seems like a lot of money for what we're getting," said board treasurer Steve Cook. 

But district operations director Dave Nelson said playground equipment is very expensive because of the liability involved — all equipment must be certified safe by the manufacturer, so most sellers are under state contract, meaning prices will be similar.

Board member Amy Brinton confirmed, saying she was on a PTO for Weigelstown Elementary about three years ago, and it cost $15,000 for the swings alone.

The board discussed the option of looking into grants or donations and questioned if the amount of equipment was enough for the community, which also uses the playground outside school hours.

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But some said the clock was ticking on the lifespan of the equipment.  

Andrew Shaffer, a PTO representative and Spring Grove borough manager, said an upgrade is way overdue, as most of the equipment has not been replaced since before 1998. The newest piece was installed in 2009.

And in order to complete the project before the start of school in the fall, which would be in the best interest of the students, the board needs to act now.

Board President Nathan Eifert concluded that the playground was in desperate need of updates, and replacing several pieces was a start, even if more is needed down the road.

The motion to fund the playground was approved 8-0.

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