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School Board Discusses Traffic Flow Problem

By Staff | Aug 23, 2011

Members of the Emmetsburg Community Schools Board of Education met on Aug. 15, to discuss a variety of items related to the start of the new school year. Among the most discussed topics were traffic flow concerns during drop-off and pick-up times in front the high school/middle school complex.

“Looking at the Summer 2011 PPEL projects list, we had a few things fall through,” said Superintendent John Joynt. “The carpet’s done, the windows on the south side of the high school are done, the storage room is done, the fire suppression system in the lunch room is up and has been tested, and the rest of the list the board approved in March kind of fell through.

“We’re investigating widening the driveway and what to do exactly. I’ve had architects figure out how much new concrete would cost-probably a $100,000 project-I had the driveway surveyed to see if it raises or lowers when the frost hits it to see what we need to fix. I thought we’d get some data first and make that a project next year, possibly,” Joynt said.

“Does this mean we’re going to go a whole other school year with the traffic issue at the middle school?” asked board member Tammy Naig.

“We’re working on that,” said Joynt. “The traffic cones worked quite a bit last year. The other option is to do something over at the parking lot, but I wasn’t ready to commit to $100,000 in concrete and not fix the mud hole problem out here.”

Laure Egland, board member, wondered if the police could patrol the area and direct traffic.

“I doubt it. We could maybe hire some reserves to get things started,” said Joynt.

Principal Jay Jurrens interjected, “There’s two separate issues here-one is the flow of traffic. You get kind of a bottleneck there. The other issue is the safety of the kids going across in front of the traffic. I know the cones helped with the flow issue, but I don’t think they helped with the safety issue.”

“I care a great deal about the water that stands in the parking lot and the cement issue we have, but I have a greater sense of urgency over the safety of our students out there. $100,000 is a tiny amount compared to a child run over,” Naig noted. “This has been a mess for two and a half years and as a bystander and a parent watching, I’ve seen very little improvement. It’s not a good thing.”

Joynt stated that there wasn’t a design to fix the problem yet.

“I thought when we talked about this last spring you were going to work on a design and try to get some ideas,” said Naig.

“That would cost over $100,000 and we’re still not sure if it would fix it because we’d still have buses coming to the front and kids going across that lane to get in the cars,” Joynt answered.

“Did we have a group that met and discussed ideas?” Naig asked.

“Briefly,” said Joynt.

Egland wondered if the school buses could load kids on the south side of the school instead on the west side. Parents picking up their children could do so on the west side (the front of the school).

“That only takes the buses out,” said Joynt. “I still think you’re going to have kids walking in front of the cars and busses, no matter where you pick them up.”

Board member Don Hagen noted that in discussing the problem, they learned that other area schools were dealing with the same problem, and Jurrens added that the district is doubling the number of adults supervising the west side of the school after school and also before school.

“We’ve only briefly discussed this, but we truly have a mess out there,” Naig said.

“Like John, I don’t see putting $100,000 into something if it doesn’t solve the problem,” said Anderson. “I’d rather take time and do a committee and meet a little bit more with architects or whoever, and spend more energy to try and solve the problem correctly.”

“I don’t the busses are the problem. I think it’s the kids getting into their parents’ cars, and I don’t know how to fix that. In September we’ll have our workshops. We could discuss this again,” said Joynt, bringing the discussion to a close.

In other business, the board approved the resignation of Elizabeth Ehn as a paraeducator and approved changing Sue Rouse from clerical to secretary to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Joann Herbers. The board also approved the positions of high school paraeducator for Valerie Pickett, middle school paraeducator for Amanda Carpenter, and paraeducator at the West Elementary for Jena Muhlbauer.

The board welcomed three foreign students who will attend Emmetsburg High School during 2011-2012: Luc Gujer from Switzerland (resides with Ron and Kim Hutchison), Nina Wip from The Netherlands (resides with John and Laura Peterson), and Marcel Pohlmann from Germany (resides with Steve and Sandy Pelzer).

“It’s a great opportunity for our kids to experience other cultures,” added Joynt.

In routine new school year business, board members gave their approval for appointments for the 2011-2012 school year. Katie Ehlert will serve as Level I Investigator with Kate Schiek as an alternate; County Attorney Lyssa Henderson will serve as Level II Investigator; Superintendent John Joynt is Affirmative Action Coordinator and Equity Coordinator; Roger Jespersen is Asbestos Coordinator; Pat Swanson will serve as Board Secretary and Board Treasurer; and Rick Franck is Board Legal Counsel.

The board also designated Wells Fargo Bank, Laurens State Bank, and Iowa Trust & Savings Bank as official bank depositories for the district for amounts not to exceed $2.5 million at any one time in any of the three banks.