EL School Board Hears Complaints about Middle School Traffic

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Tuesday, January 12, 2016, 3:24 pm
Karessa Wheeler

The traffic situation at MacDonald Middle School is creating a dangerous situation for students, a parent told the East Lansing Board of Education Monday night.

Patty Bonito, parent of a sixth-grader, spoke on behalf of the MacDonald Middle School’s Parent Council, and asked the Board to help them address the problems arising from the glut of vehicles during the pick-up and drop-off times at the school.

“It is a phenomenon. It’s out of control,” Bonito said. “It is dangerous to students, a danger to crossing guards and to parents volunteering to direct traffic.”

While congestion has always been an issue, the problem has gotten much worse with the addition of sixth graders to the middle school population in 2014, Bonito said. While the school was enlarged to account for the additional students, the parking lot and drop-off lanes were left the same.

She reports that during the mornings and afternoons, cars can line up twenty deep along Burcham Drive and block both the bike lanes and the sight lines for pedestrians. The City does not provide crossing guards for middle school students and there are no middle school staff members available to assist with traffic direction.

The Parent Council is working with the City’s Transportation Commission to undertake a traffic study and plans to discuss the issue at their Jan. 25 meeting.

“We are certainly aware of it, and it is a real challenge,” said Board President Nell Kuhnmuench.

In other action, the Board:

  • Reappointed the officers of the Board without any changes. The Board officers are: President Kuhnmuench, Vice President Yasmina Bouraoui, Treasurer Kath Edsall and Secretary Hillary Henderson.
  • Heard an overview of the process by which students are enrolled in East Lansing Public Schools through the State Schools of Choice program and the District’s Permeable Boundaries policy by Gail Gillengerten, Assistant to the Superintendent. The Permeable Boundaries policy allows parents who live within one East Lansing elementary school district to request their child attend another school within the district, most often for the purposes of childcare. Gillengerten said they usually receive about 50 requests a year and try to approve as many as possible. Approval is only made if there is room in the grade level and is valid for one year only. Schools of Choice requests follow State law and allow parents outside the district to apply for any open slots within the district. The district decides how many slots will be open for Schools of Choice each year.
  • Heard a request from resident Liam Brockey to re-examine the start times of both the middle and high schools. Brockey stated that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no schools start before 8:30 a.m. Currently, in East Lansing the high school begins at 7:45 a.m. and the middle school at 8:05 a.m. He believes it would be beneficial for the health and academic success of all students.
  • Received a request from Karin Pfeiffer to work with a group of parents on applying for a federal grant for Safe Routes to School. The money would help encourage physical activity in students. A group of parents are willing to write a grant request, but need cooperation from the administration.

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