Parents and high school athletes expressed their concerns about the safety of Kaneland High School’s track at the Kaneland District 302 School Board meeting May 31.
Sarah Nosek, an Elburn resident, spoke to the board with her son, Evan, a track athlete, standing behind her.
“You can drive by the track from 50 meters away and see that it’s still black and it has faded white lines and numbers on it and think, ‘Oh, yeah, it must be OK,’ ” Nosek said. “But that could not be farther from the truth.”
Nosek said track resurfacing is supposed to happen every seven to 10 years and noted the board was considering putting it off another five years.
“Our track has not been resurfaced for 26 years,” Nosek said. “The Kaneland school district and Board of Education have collectively left this track to corrode and deteriorate to an extremely unsafe point.”
Jen Farmer, a Sugar Grove resident, has a former high school student who competed in pole vault, which is an event in track and field. Farmer encouraged board members to take a walk on the track and look at the track, runways and long jump pits.
“There are cracks that are so huge,” Farmer said. “I am surprised, floored that watching these meets, watching these kids practice, there was not a catastrophic injury. We have to think about their safety, not only inside of a building but outside athletic fields as well.”
Associate superintendent Julie-Ann Fuchs said the cost to put new asphalt on the track and add a new topcoat would be about $600,000.
“The track is older,” Fuchs said after the meeting. “And the asphalt is wearing thin.”
Fuchs acknowledged the track is not as soft as it should be and said it is “mostly in high use areas.”
“We repair and update those each year to make sure they’re as safe as they can be,” Fuchs said. “But again, they’re aging and wearing.”
Another issue is divots in the asphalt, which Fuchs said are “small cracks.”
“And they’re going to get fixed,” she said.
Fuchs said resurfacing is putting a new topcoat on the track.
Already in the works this summer is what the board called putting a “band-aid” on the track.
Fuchs said the $29,000 project will include patching and striping, meaning holes get patched, cracks are filled and paint is put on the track to identify lanes.
Anthony Urban, a recent Kaneland graduate and track and field athlete, spoke on behalf of the athletes.
“We have the worst track we’ve ever ran on and … people from other schools say that, too,” Urban said. “They don’t even want to come to our school for track meets.”
Urban also spoke about the success of the school’s track and field program over the past 25 years. He said with a safer track the program would be even better.
“The program could be even more successful if we were given opportunities to improve,” Urban said. “And the program has been this successful while practicing in the hallways. And the track is basically concrete.”
Urban said if the school had a new track, injuries would decrease and more students would be in the track program.
“I know kids who have left the program because of injuries to their legs due to running on such a hard surface,” Urban said.
Karl Moos, an IHSA football official, gave the board words of caution from his high school athletic experience on the track.
“The last thing that we would want is for our kids or any athlete – male, female, whomever – to have their career cut short by a poorly maintained track,” Moos said.
The board unanimously agreed 7-0 to put on hold the estimated $500,000 to replace and sealcoat the school bus lot pavement at the high school site to consider more options for those funds.
The board is expected to continue discussing whether to invest money in improving the track or bus lot in 2024 at the July 31 meeting.
The bus lot asphalt is sinking under the weight of buses, Fuchs said.
She said during the winter there are “pools of water” and ice, which makes it slippery and could cause drivers to fall.
She said this is a safety issue and bus drivers have been injured.
“They are people, too,” Fuchs said.
At the meeting, officials said the total cost for the school district’s capital projects was almost $1.4 million.