Proposal for an All-Weather Track at King

On Wednesday, Oct.10, the BUSD School Board will vote at their meeting on replacement of the current track with an all-weather track. Please take time to become familiar with the issues and voice your opinion.

Issues with the Present Dirt Track

During the rainy season, the track becomes muddy, with ruts and puddles of water, rendering the track largely unusable during this part of the year. All-weather tracks are porous and self-draining, eliminating water pooling and damage.

During dry parts of the year, the ruts remain, leaving a dangerous uneven surface. Students are at risk for twisted ankles and other injuries. The public, which makes significant use of the track, is also at risk for injury, leaving BUSD open to potential liability risk.

Running on the track stirs up dust, which irritate runners’ eyes and aggravates conditions of students with asthma.

Dirt from the track is tracked into the gym and damages the gym floor, meaning that it needs to be resurfaced frequently.

Concerns about the Proposed New Track

At the recent public meeting about the track, there were some concerns voiced by community members.

Berkeley High all-weather track

Environmental concerns about the synthetic material: All-weather tracks like the one King is considering include polyurethane, a synthetic substance known to be harmful in certain amounts. However, schools are under the jurisdiction of Cal/OSHA, which enforces strict regulations on polyurethane exposure—stricter, in fact, than those in almost all other states. Manufacturer standards for all-weather tracks are well within Cal/OSHA requirements. Given that student safety is a primary motivation factor in the decision concerning a new track, the district is also concerned about and takes seriously issues of environmental health.

Expense of installing and maintaining the track: Although the installation cost is considerable, there is money available from the 2010 Measure I bond. Maintaining an all-weather track will cost significantly less than maintaining the present dirt track. The district spent a considerable amount of money several years ago to resurface the present track, and it is already in very poor shape again owning to the nature of its composition and elements of weather. Maintenance for an all-weather track (restriping and recoating) will cost less than resurfacing and be necessary less often.

Increased use of the track: With an upgraded facility, King might well host more track events to share the opportunity for increased performance and safety with students from other schools. Some community members were concerned that this would impinge on the community’s use of the track. It is important to recognize that Berkeley school children ARE part of the community. Moreover, track meets will continue to take place only during select hours after school. Evening and weekend hours should be unaffected and the community free to enjoy the upgraded track as well.

Support for the New Track

Construction of the new track is supported by Principal Janet Levenson, King P.E. teachers and track coaches, and King P.T.A.

You can support this project by making your views known to School Board members in advance of Wednesday’s vote. A message sent to boardofed@berkeley.net will go to all Board members. Names and contact information for individual members are listed here.