A F.W. Howay Elementary parent was surprised to learn that his school's parent advisory council has to pay $4,000 to have their old playground removed before a new playground is installed.
Paul Johansen, a member of the district parent advisory council and school board critic, said the parent council shouldn't have to cover the cost of removal, which he said was done by the school district in the past.
"Before, the district would always send a crew up there and get rid of it for you," Johansen said. "This is an extra burden on the PAC that we didn't anticipate.
"We were fortunate to get what we got, but that doesn't mean the district can offload new expenses onto us," he said.
The province visited New Westminster school district last June to announce $75,000 in grants for two local schools for playground funding F.W. Howay received $50,000 and Queen Elizabeth Elementary received $25,000.
Local CUPE president Marcel Marsolais said he "opposes" a plan to use outside contractors to tear down and remove the old playground.
"This shouldn't be happening," Marsolais said.
In the past, he said, generally district staff had done the work.
"This is the first time I've heard that someone is being contracted to remove the existing or old playground equipment," he said.
Marsolais said there is no savings to be achieved by outsourcing the cost.
"We prove time and time again, every-time we hire a new contractor it generally costs the board more," he said. "I'm totally opposed to this. This shouldn't be happening.
"In Burnaby, the school district staff actually install the playground equipment, they remove the old equipment, they install the new equipment," he added. "We've always done the preparation of the site for playgrounds and we've done the retaining walls around the playgrounds. My understanding of this project is all of that is being contracted out. It's unacceptable, and the contractor is using our (school district) equipment as well, and we have staff that are trained to do that kind of work that the contractor is doing at this point."
Marsolais says the union calls it "bringing the work back home."
The district is currently dealing with a hefty $2.8 million deficit from last year, and is working toward trimming more than $2 million from this year's budget.
The district's director of operations, Doug Templeton, could not be reached at press time for comment.