Posted at: 09/06/2013 9:23 PM
Updated at: 09/06/2013 9:25 PM
By: John Doetkott

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School Puts Safety Over Fundraising

(ABC 6 NEWS) -- Two years ago, Sumner Elementary School in Austin began dismantling its playground after the equipment was deemed unsafe.

"Until the playground equipment was gone, I don't think many people paid a lot of attention,” said Sheila Berger, the school’s principal.

The school has since spent more than $160,000 to add swings and a miniature soccer field, and while they'd like to build more, school officials say the equipment and the surfacing are simply too expensive.

“To put in a large complex like we had before would be something around $75,000 to $100,000," Berger said.

With no available money from the school district for a new playground, school officials have had to turn to other options.

“Our Sumner Parents United group has had to become creative about fundraising,” Berger said.

But getting creative does not mean that all options are on the table.

Because of safety concerns, the school has decided to end its traditional door-to-door campaigns.

“Having our kids out door-to-door, it's not a good idea,” Berger said. “It's not safe. So, I guess we've tried really hard not to go that direction."

Parents say it's a decision that gives them more peace of mind.

"Parents are concerned for their kids’ safety,” said Natalie Bunnell, president of Sumner Parents United 4 Kids. “So when you have first and second graders running across the street and going to different neighborhoods trying to sell money to win prizes, I think a lot of parents were concerned about that.”

Next Thursday, the school will hold a special family fun night to help raise money for a new playground, but school officials know it's a process that’s going to take time.

“When you look at a piece of equipment that costs at the least $3,000 and you have to do the surfacing that will probably cost $5,000 to $7,000 more, we have a long way to go,” Berger said.