February 6, 2013
MINSTER — While 37 percent of the Minster School student population lives within a half mile of school, only 10 percent walk there. That jumps to 20 percent after school, but that's not enough if you ask school officials.
“We are looking at trying to increase those percentages,” Superintendent Brenda Boeke said.
The district has been working with the Village of Minster since the beginning of the school year to develop a school travel plan. The partnership soon will apply for a Safe Routes to School grant, but it first wants input from the community.
A public meeting will begin at 7 p.m. today in the Village Administration Building, 5 W. Fourth St. Safe Routes to School and Ohio Department of Transportation officials will be there.
The school travel plan can be found online at www.minster.k12.oh.us or in the elementary school office. The school is accepting public input until Feb. 15. Comments and concerns should be sent to Boeke at Brenda.firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We want to try to make sure kids understand the benefits of walking and riding their bikes to school,” Boeke said. “And also this is a way for the school and village to work together to meet the needs of our community.”
The grant must be submitted by March 1. The maximum any entity can get for infrastructure is $500,000. Officials will hear results of the application by May 1. That would be in time to get work done by the start of next school year, Boeke said.
School and village officials are concerned about a few specific areas. One is the intersection at Seventh and Main streets. While there is a traffic light, Boeke said, there isn’t an appropriate crossing walk sign. Sidewalks also are an issue, she said. There are no sidewalks from Main to Garfield streets, nor from the school to the new subdivision at Four Seasons Park.
Fixing these problems will benefit both children and adults, Boeke said.
The school surveyed pupils and parents earlier in the school year. The survey showed 10 percent walk in the morning and 20 percent after school. Despite bike racks at the school, less than one percent of pupils bike to school. The district buses pupils living beyond two miles from school.
Boeke said Minster staff, specifically a physical education teacher, have been part of the planning. The school will try different ways to encourage walking or riding a bike to school, including designated walk or bike to school days. The district also is considering a walking school bus, where parents and other volunteers walk children to school and pick up others along the way.
“The parent at the farthest end of town starts and picks up more kids,” Boeke said. “They walk in a safe environment with adult supervision from the far end of town all the way to school.”