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Rubber surfaces for playgrounds a concern for La Crosse schools

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FILE - Children play on the Northside Elementary turf.

While generations of kids in America grew up on playgrounds with blacktop surfaces, schools and parks have tried to make play areas safer with rubber surfaces instead of blacktop.  But in recent years, there have been questions about that rubber being a health hazard to children. 

At Monday night’s La Crosse school board meeting, Jamie O’Neill asked the board to consider a different material for playgrounds, because of research into chemicals used in the rubber.

O’Neill reported to the board about research conducted into rubber playground chips by a U-W-L student, speaking of “documented cases of behavior and cognitive delays, slowed growth and development, internal organ damage, cancer, and anemia” from exposure to rubber chips.    

O’Neill says she thought the rubber surfaces were a good idea at the time they were installed locally, but now proposes putting wood chips under playground equipment at La Crosse schools.   

In other school board business, the school district has found a new principal for Central High School…who’s already on the Central staff. 

Associate principal Jeff Axness has been hired to succeed Troy McDonald, who retires this spring after four years as Central principal.  Axness also has been dean of students at Central. 

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from UW - La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area. He regularly covers local courts and city and county government. Brad produces the features "Yesterday in La Crosse" and "What's Buried on Brad's Desk." He also writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse. Brad been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.

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