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McKeesport track is off limits during school hours, activities

| Friday, Oct. 18, 2013, 4:31 a.m.
Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News
Kayle Lovell, Amie Huber and other spectators of a junior varsity football game on Thursday evening make their way around Weigle-Schaeffer Memorial Stadium. The stadium and track are closed to recreational users during organized school activities.
Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News
Weigle-Schaeffer Memorial Stadium now is closed to recreational users during school hours and school activities.

McKeesport Area School District has implemented a policy of restricting its stadium and track from public use during school hours and school functions.

“We looked at doing this a couple years ago for the absolute safety and security of the kids,” said district director of buildings and grounds Edward Fagan. “That's our number one priority. We would be remiss in our responsibilities if we didn't look at everything involving safety.”

High school principal Mark Holtzman said the change is in response to tragic events in other districts.

“We're talking about schools nationwide with some of the mass shootings and unfortunate situations that have compromised student safety over the last 10 years, 15 years,” Holtzman said. “I think the district did a fine job of advertising that the track would be closed and posted signs. We really haven't heard any feedback. It's no different than, say, a visitor entering our school building and some of the procedures that happen as far as identifying themselves and making sure that everybody involved is safe.”

Having the track and field only available to district students and personnel during business hours helps to alleviate stress during outdoor classes.

“It makes it difficult for our (physical education) teachers when they bring out 50 or 100 students and there's multiple activities going on in the stadium, children on the track, children on the field, things like that,” Holtzman said. “Then we have folks from the public who we may not know. Sometimes there's small children with them. It makes for a little bit of anxiety considering (teachers) are responsible for those students no matter the circumstances ... It was just kind of open to anybody.”

Some districts restrict field and track usage during school hours, and some have their facilities open to the public.

Elizabeth Forward Superintendent Bart Rocco said it has been a long-standing policy to have its track closed during the school day and for activities such as practices and games.

“It's a security issue to be able to manage our facilities,” Rocco said. “We certainly want the community members to use the track on off hours. The public, I think, is pretty understanding of it. I haven't heard any calls or anything like that.”

Steel Valley director of facilities Dennis Keesecker said the girls softball field and an asphalt track near Franklin Primary School are open unless a game or practice are taking place.

Steel Valley's William V. Campbell Athletic Field is not adjacent to a school.

“You can walk that any time except if there is a school function or activities up there,” Keesecker said.

East Allegheny Superintendent Roger D'Emidio said his district does not have a policy restricting the public from using the field or track during school hours, but only students are known to use those facilities at those times. He said the public usually comes to the track when classes are not in session.

Clairton City School District spokesperson Alexis Trubiani said the public cannot use Neil C. Brown Stadium at any time.

“We don't have a track and our stadium is closed except for students and organizations that put in requests for usage,” Trubiani said.

Michael DiVittorio is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161 ext. 1965, or mdivittorio@tribweb.com.

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