November 30, 2020

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Some school tracks closed during COVID-19 pandemic prompts public funding debate | FOX 4 Kansas City WDAF-TV

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Most outdoor spaces around Kansas City are back open six months into...

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Most outdoor spaces around Kansas City are back open six months into the pandemic, but not all.

Clifford Ragan has enjoyed using the track at Ruskin High School right across from his home. It got a $230,000 upgrade courtesy of Kansas City’s Public Improvement Advisory Committee, approved in 2016. The same committee approved an additional $340,000 for replacement of the district’s synthetic turf in 2019.

It’s money Ragan, a former Hickman Mills School board member, said the district accepted but isn’t using correctly under the guidelines.

”The only thing that is required by PIAC is you allow the community a way to get in, and this is not a way with it being locked up,” he said, pointing to the track’s locked gate.

The track has remained locked since the school district went virtual in March. The school still has no students inside, only student athletes on the football field.

The school district said the track is closed to the public because of health and safety concerns related to COVID-19. 

Meanwhile, FOX4 found the track open at Hickman Mills freshmen center Monday. People who were exercising on the track, while a football team practiced on the field, said they enjoy using it daily and it’s not locked, even when teams aren’t the field.

The nearby walkers and joggers didn’t bother one player’s mom. 

“Because it’s an open space, you can definitely social distance and keep your space from other people,” Jasmine Benton said.

But the handling of tracks within the district frustrates Ragan.

“So why should this one be locked down and this is funded with PIAC money that’s used for the community?” Ragan asked.

Hickman Mills Public Information Director Marissa Cleaver Wamble said the track at the high school will remain locked as there isn’t staff to enforce social distancing among joggers.

They haven’t discussed a timetable to reconsider the closure, but Cleaver-Wamble said it likely wouldn’t happen before students returned to the school.

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