Frontier School District preparing for Safe Routes to School Program
It was stated at last Tuesday’s (Sept. 18) meeting that the planning process is taking place before the official submission in October for the federal project of the Safe Routes to School Program, an undertaking that is described as having the purpose of serving elementary and middle school students within the district. The project is coordinated through the New York State Department of Transportation, representatives of which Superintendent James Bodziak said initially approached the district in spring 2012, and ran a workshop that indicated full reimbursable funding for such a project is available. Funding was also said to be managed by the Town of Hamburg.
Bodziak stated during a project outline that the purpose of the item is to promote the health of school children who walk or bicycle to school regularly, while reducing motor vehicle traffic around schools, and promoting cleaner air emissions and reducing fuel usage. Additional project parameters include the construction of physical infrastructure near schools to provide safe walking and bicycling. An exact start date of the project is not yet known, Bodziak said, but it was stated as part of the outline that once commenced, the undertaking will take four to five years to complete.
Town of Hamburg Grant Writer Mark Melewski is currently working on submitting the project before the Oct. 5 deadline. Additionally checked components include Town of Hamburg Supervisor Steven Walters and town board bembers officially approving the project; Bodziak drafting a letter of support; a listed contact from the Town of Hamburg Police Department being established for an educational program; Frontier’s District Safe Schools Committee drafting a letter of support for the project; and a letter from the district and Town of Hamburg being sent to Hamburg residents to inform them of the project and the impact of proposed sidewalks being installed on their property, work described as having no cost to the residents in question. Bodziak said the letter to residents was mailed Sept. 14, a statement indicating that residents have the opportunity to voice to the district any concerns related to the project.
The Frontier Central School Board passed by a 9-0 vote Tuesday a project resolution that the Town of Hamburg will work in coordination with the State Department of Transportation to provide Frontier with education materials so that the district can implement an educational program related to pedestrian and bicycle safety for their students.
It was stated within the resolution that if the DOT formally approves the project, it will reimburse the Town of Hamburg the total of 100 percent of the implementation costs up to $500,000 for infrastructure improvements, as well as up to $150,000 for non-infrastructure improvements, such as educational programs.
Several infrastructure projects would include, at Pinehurst Elementary, the installation of a sidewalk on Fairway Court, from the school to Lakecrest Drive; as well as a sidewalk being installed across Fairway Court to connect Pinehurst Court. At Cloverbank Elementary, slated work would include improving a crosswalk to encompass Stewart Parkway; and installing a sidewalk from the school to Orchard Avenue.
Big Tree Elementary work includes installing sidewalks from Big Tree to Riley Road, and Big Tree to Bay View Road; and to connect Big Tree to the adjacent Marietta Road/Sheva Lane neighborhood; and installing a traffic light and crosswalk at East driveway across Bay View Road. Frontier Middle School work includes installing a crosswalk across Amsdell Road to the Briercliff neighborhood; and installing a paved connector path to connect the middle school to Stillwell, an item that may require an easement being granted.
Board Member Martin Lalka asked whether sidewalk work would include accompanying lights being installed, especially in sites near wooded and potentially dangerous areas. Bodziak said such an issue would be addressed under further project scrutiny and development.
Non-infrastructure plans were required as part of the SRTS Educational Program for elementary and middle school students, additionally incorporating the Town of Hamburg PD SRTS Enforcement Initiative, the Frontier Parent Teacher Association Encouragement Initiative, and an Evaluation Program implementation that is required for all funded projects by the National Center for Safe Routes to School Center.
Bodziak reiterated that the overall project does not discourage eligible students from taking the bus. Rather, the superintendent said, the SRTS program makes the surroundings safer for those who do choose to walk or bike to school.
Also Tuesday, a presentation outlined the recently completed 2012 summer school program within Frontier. It was stated that nearly 500 students from Frontier took part in the program, which also included several other school districts in Western New York. About 50 more Frontier students this past summer took part in summer school compared the 2011 amount.
New summer courses included specific sections of economics, geometry, global studies, U.S. history, physical science, earth science and biology. Existing courses were offered in integrated algebra, problem solving, algebra II/Trigonometry, grades 6 to 8 geometry, grades 6 to 8 integrated algebra, English grades 6 to 12, physical education, keyboarding and health/prevention. Frontier faculty accounted for 86 percent of certified summer school staff, including special education collaborative teaching as well as resource room exercises.
Frontier Middle School Assistant Principal Peter Frank said program goals included establishing a fiscally responsible and efficient model and boosting Regents exam scores in the areas of math and science, while following a traditional, six-week summer course with a five-day Regents review schedule.
Passing rates in specified course areas were described as exemplary in general. Overall in English, 90 percent of participating students passed the Regents exam, including a perfect rate in English 9, 10 and 12. In social studies, Global 11 students passed the overall course at a 92 percent rate, although at 52 percent on the Regents. Global students overall passed courses at a rate of 88 percent.
In mathematics, general course passing went at an 88 percent clip in geometry, 83 percent in algebra II/trig and 100 percent in problem solving. Under the area of science, living environment students passed at a 95 percent rate, compared to 72 percent overall in earth science. Chemistry, physical science and new physical science students, totaling 28 students, passed at a perfect rate.
Additionally, “Operation Graduation,” a program dictating the finish of hinging seniors, saw a perfect rate of 12 of 12 students receive graduating, passing marks, overcoming the status obtained as previously being “at-risk/non-graduating seniors who may have been given individual behavior contracts.”
Their daily attendance and grades in the program were monitored, and communication was given with their parents/guardians.
In terms of discipline, four students were removed from the overall summer program, mainly due to participation (attendance) based violations. A social worker was said to be on site in accordance with the “Dignity for All Students” act, and School Resource Officer Al Schum also served in a needed capacity.
The next meeting of the Frontier Central School Board will take place at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 2 at the Frontier Educational Center board room, located at 5120 Orchard Ave., in Hamburg.