After several years of frustration, rejections and disappointment, Peachtree Charter Middle School is set to get a new running track.  The DeKalb School Board was to vote Monday night, after The Crier’s deadline, to approve $250,000 in funding for the much-needed track. The current track was built in the 1960s.Tree roots have caused bumps and cracks and then the track was further damaged as the middle school was rebuilt.

Students and teachers said it has become a hazard with its many cracks, bumps, and even potholes. Led by the efforts of PCMS parent, Stephanie Holmes, and head of the PE department, Kathryn Gardner, the school community has been trying to raise enough money to pay for a new track. It sponsored 5-K fun runs and even entered an online contest sponsored by Clorox bleach.  Now it appears the school board will replace the track.

“I am excited beyond belief,” said Holmes. “I couldn’t believe it would actually happen.  It’s nice to know when you work hard on something, it can make a difference.”

What made the most difference is that Holmes contacted state Sen. Fran Millar (R-Dunwoody) and asked for his help.  Once he became aware of the problem he took the issue to the new DeKalb County school superintendent, Dr. Cheryl Atkinson. 

Funding for new tracks at a number of schools had been dropped from the recent SPLOST list for funding with the one-cent sales tax, and school officials had repeatedly told parents that a track for middle school students was “not essential.”  

Millar said that Atkinson went back over the budget and apparently found that some cost savings from lowered construction costs on other projects—enough to fund several tracks, including Peachtree Middle.  

“I was very pleased when I went to the superintendent to explain that this track is a real problem and that we need to do things for students throughout the county, she was very responsive,” said Millar.

A new asphalt track should be installed before the end of the school year. According to Millar, the top two inches of the existing track will be removed, along with the intruding tree roots.  Once the subsurface has been prepared and graded, a new topcoat of asphalt with lane striping and lettering will be installed. 

For the students who run the track weekly as part of their cardiovascular training in PE class, that’s good news.  The school had been keeping track of the growing number of injuries from tripping and falling, and face plants on the uneven track.  

“Now we’re going to have a safe track to run on,” added Holmes.   

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