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May 4, 2010 > District joins with 'safe routes to schools'

District joins with 'safe routes to schools'

Submitted By Rick LaPlante

Intent on providing alternatives to families who will be affected by the elimination of bus transportation, the New Haven Unified School District has partnered with the Alameda County "Safe Routes to School" Program to promote safe walking and biking to school and to minimize traffic congestion in school neighborhoods.

Safe Routes to School (SR2S) is an international movement dedicated to increasing the safety and number of children walking and bicycling to school. SR2S's Alameda County partnership provides training sessions, resources and customized support at no cost while working with schools, parents and the local community to give children an active, healthy start to the school day, reduce traffic congestion and improve environmental health.

"We are very aware that, without bus transportation, it is going to be more difficult for some families to get their children to school, and we are committed to doing what we can, within our limited means, to help," New Haven Superintendent Kari McVeigh said. "Safe Routes to School is a proven program that helps individual school communities get organized, provides resources for a variety of options and tailors those to fit the needs of each particular school."

SR2S representatives, who already are working with one New Haven school, Searles Elementary, will attend School Site Council, Parent-Teacher Association and special meetings at the other schools in May. At each site, including a joint meeting for next-door neighbors Alvarado Elementary and Alvarado Middle, they will explain the program to parents, discuss options and recruit volunteers.

"Obviously, we can't replace an entire K-8 transportation system, but we can offer some alternatives that will make it less difficult for those most affected to get their children safely to and from school," SR2S program coordinator Erika Rinc—n-Whitcomb said.

SR2S helps parents and other volunteers organize "walking school buses," provides "walk audits" to minimize difficulties in walking or bicycling to school and teaches bicycle safety - even providing bikes and helmets - as part of its "Cycles for Change" program. SR2S also helps parents and volunteers organize car pools. "SRS2 will work with each school to find options and alternatives that best fit the particular site," Ms. McVeigh said.

The complete schedule of meetings at which SR2S representatives will be in attendance:

May 13: Cesar Chavez Middle, 6 p.m.
May 17: Pioneer Elementary, 6:30 p.m.
May 19: Emanuele Elementary, 5 p.m.; Hillview Crest Elementary, 6 p.m.;
Kitayama Elementary 7 p.m.
May 20: Joint meeting for Alvarado Elementary and Alvarado Middle at
Alvarado Middle, 6 p.m.

SRS2 in Alameda County is funded with a grant from Measure B, the county's half-cent transportation sales tax, administered by the Alameda County Transportation Improvement Authority.

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