ALL students should have equal access!
ALL students should have equal access!
Dear Mr. Bagstad, Mr. Krett & School Board Members,
First and foremost, let me thank you for your commitment to our students. I appreciate your extraordinary dedication and recognize that you provide a vital service within our community. History documents you are strong advocates for continuous improvements, student learning and the safety of our students.
I am writing this letter in regards to the safety of our students and the recent changes made to the transportation within a two-mile radius of the schools. Several parents, the chief of police and others have voiced their concerns about unusual hazards existing within these areas. I am asking that our transportation team, local officials and the sheriff reexamine the unusual hazards existing within the proposed non-bussing area in the city while keeping the suggested criteria/conditions from the DPI (listed below) particularly for elementary students.
The Wisconsin Public Department of Instruction states
It is understood that all traffic conditions through which pupils must travel present some degree of hazard. If such conditions constitute an unacceptable level of danger and cannot be corrected by other local units of government, a school board may develop a plan to designate such an area as "unusually hazardous" and provide appropriate safeguards, which may or may not include transportation. The Department of Public Instruction recognizes that the safest method of transporting pupils is in school buses.
The law does not dictate the specific conditions that constitute an unusual hazard. Rather, the above procedure requires the original consideration and development of Unusually Hazardous Transportation UHT plans to be conducted by the local government because each community and school district has unique characteristics that contribute to unusual transportation hazards. Since characteristics vary widely from one district to another, local officials are typically in the best position to determine what constitutes an unusual hazard in their own community. Some, or all, of the following suggested criteria/conditions may be used to assist local governments in determining whether an unusual hazard exists.
· Age of pupils
· Lack of sidewalks
· Lack of crossing guards
· Lack of local law enforcement
· Railroad crossings
· Width of shoulder of road/highway
· Traffic counts
As you know, Arcadia has unusually high traffic due to the many job opportunities our community provides. The lack of sidewalks is detrimental to the safety of our students since they do not provide a SAFE path separated from motorized traffic. Some of our pupils will be 5 years old and walking 2 miles in areas with limited or no sidewalks with unusually high traffic & distracted drivers on an increase. If we are suggesting that elementary students do not walk, and parents are responsible, then ultimately, we are telling elementary students not to walk because we know it is not safe. We also recognize the widespread scope and prevalence of childhood adversity as we continue to build our capacity as a trauma-informed school and community. Trauma-informed schools work to promote the feelings of physical, social and emotional safety in students. They also promote school policies and practices that ensure positive and safe learning environments for all students. Elementary students can hope their parents will make arrangements so they can get to school safely, but at the end of the day if (parents) or the school does not have a plan in place the child will be at home or attempting to walk to school. If we don’t have a plan, we are ultimately adding an additional barrier for our families and students. This added stress, adversity and trauma will negatively impact our students’ ability to attend and thrive in school.
Elementary students should be provided transportation even if they are within a two-mile radius that constitutes more than an ordinary hazard and seriously jeopardizes their safety traveling to and from school. Plans for each district will differ due to the unique needs each community presents. Conclusively, local officials should work together to develop a plan that provides all elementary children with a route that ensures a safe path to and from school. We have a number of community members that would be happy to continue talking with our trauma-informed team, transportation team, DPI and other local officials to help develop a plan that prioritizes efforts to ensure all students a safe route. We are confident that we can find a creative solution so all students have equal access to a safe learning environment each day.