Becca Parr, grants coordinator for the City of Durant, presented the Safe Routes to School Project to the committee. The project focuses on children’s safety at school, and involves placing solar-paneled speed limit signs and improving crosswalks and sidewalks.
Parr said all three elementary schools, Durant Intermediate School and Durant Middle School will be covered under the project grant. Also, the grant allows $200,000 per school for improvements.
She said her No. 1 concern is Washington Irving’s residential congestion and the loading/unloading zone behind the cafeteria. Parr is concerned because students sometimes “mingle through cars” during loading and unloading.
Dr. Terry James, Durant school superintendent, said teachers at WI supervise the children and walk them to their parents’ or guardians’ vehicles to curb this, but the area still needs to be safer.
Parr suggested designating a nearby grassy area as a parking lot, allowing for 20 parking spaces. However, grant funds cannot be used to pay for the parking lot, since it is on school grounds.
She also said fencing around WI on 10th Avenue needs to be relocated, and any trees removed for school improvements would be replaced.
However, WI isn’t the only school that needs safety improvements. According to Parr, DIS is the second priority and DMS is third. Improvements needed around these schools include placing new lights and repainting crosswalks.
Parr asked for a letter of commitment from the school board, support for Phase II of the grant resolution and the signing of an endorsement document.
“It’s a new process for everyone. We want to support you,” James said to Parr.
In an executive session, the school board, led by Board President Dan England, accepted resignations by Wendy Johnson and Barbara Hardy, with DIS, and renewed contracts.
The board also approved the hiring of Keith Henderson, who will serve as physical education teacher at DIS and a football coach.