Strawberry Park bus service, parking queried

Parent: Campus is traffic nightmare

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Steamboat Springs School District buses drive up Amethyst Drive on Monday afternoon, the first day of a new school year in Steamboat Springs. During the School Board meeting Monday night, a parent complained about parking and traffic issues during pick-up and drop-off at Strawberry Park Elementary School, which shares a parking lot with Steamboat Springs Middle School.

— When Joan Ausbury picked her child up from Strawberry Park Elementary School on the first day of school Monday, she described the scene as "chaos."

"I don't know if any of you have ever seen that in the morning, but I strongly encourage you all to drive by tomorrow," Ausbury told the Steamboat Springs School Board during its meeting Monday night.

Strawberry Park and Steam-boat Springs Middle School share a parking lot and entrance, which Ausbury said makes for a congested pick-up time when school lets out.

"Maybe you shouldn't go into that parking lot, because we don't need any more cars in that parking lot right now," Ausbury said, revising her suggestion to the board. "It's a safety risk, and I'm very concerned about my daughter and myself walking through that parking lot. I'm concerned I may hit a child in that parking lot. It's chaos."

Despite living on Routt County Road 36 - just a few miles from the school, Ausbury said she is disappointed the school district hasn't provided bus service to the 12 elementary school families who live along the road.

"We are concerned about the congestion in the parking lot, and those 12 cars make a difference," she said. "Kids were dropped off on the street and walking into the parking lot and up to the school because parents were trying to avoid the madness in the parking lot."

Ausbury added that she is disappointed the district approved the purchase of a new $109,870, 72-passenger school bus while a 12-passenger bus, which could be used to ferry the C.R. 36 students to school, remains out of service.

Ed Dingledine, the district's director of transportation, said the purchase of the new school bus was made with funds gifted by the Education Fund Board, not the school district. He also said the district may not have the money to pay additional bus drivers.

"We were over budget on wages and overtime last year," he said. "That's why we felt adding additional wages was inappropriate. I understand the concerns Joan has regarding that; I'd love to have as many buses out there as I can.

"There are additional places we could use buses in addition to that. But it's a matter of wage issues."

- To reach Mike McCollum, call 871-4208

or e-mail mmccollum@steamboatpilot.com

Comments

Vince arroyo 6 years, 7 months ago

Great comments mom. people start being responsible for your selves .

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dogdog 6 years, 7 months ago

So the school board can spend over $300K to buy out someone but can't afford safe and appropriate transportation for students?

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Matthew Stoddard 6 years, 7 months ago

It's the first day of school! Cripes! It's always a mess. Plus, it's not like the parking design at those schools has changed significantly (or if even changed at all) since last year.

If you want, blame it on the board from 1981, when the schools were being built and how they neglected their crystal ball. Or blame it on the last Board for giving a Superintendent a contract like that in the first place, stymieing any future Board.

Then, also ask how many of those people driving to the schools are actually on a bus route from elsewhere. How many parents do you know that still drop their kids off when they live on a bus route? I know a few, personally.

Then think about the new Soda Creek construction along with providing Camp Soda Creek. Think that might be taking up a pretty penny?

Then think about who to hire to drive all those new buses, considering most businesses in town can't find enough workers, since they can't afford to live here.

Then think about why those 12 cars mentioned all from CR36's area don't carpool when they can? I'm betting most are driving SUV's that can carry more than 1 or 2 kids. Are they already helping each other out in that fashion?

Any other things you want to think about?

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Carrie Requist 6 years, 7 months ago

I picked up my children for the first time today at Strawberry Park and it seemed much the same as every other year. I have my children ride the bus as much as possible (I prefer it), but sometimes there are schedule things that mean I must pick them up.

In the first weeks of school the parents (especially parents of younger children or those new to the school) tend to take and pick up their children. Once things settle, more of those children will ride the buses.

One thing I don't understand about your letter is why you are parking and not waiting in the pick up line? It was always difficult to park in the past and now, with the loss of some of the parking lot to the construction, it is even moreso. While the pickup lines don't work perfectly, they keep you or your child from having to walk through the parking lot.

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Carrie Requist 6 years, 7 months ago

And Matt - the parking at Strawberry Park / Middle School has changed. While the Soda Creek Construction is huge and gets most of the press, Strawberry Park also has a sizeable construction project in progress on the back side (away from the street side). The Kindergarten playground and modular that were there are gone (well, the modular will be gone) and a new pod of 10 classrooms is being built in its place (there is also interior work that will be done on the ventilation system and to move the office to the front, but I believe this work will be done when school is not in session, mostly next summer)

This means that the back portion of the Strawberry Park part of the parking lot is no longer available for parking. At pickup, patents can get in the pickup lines, which are the front portion (street side) part of the lot or they can go to the back and park and walk in to get their kids. Both ways have problems and have for a while now and this is just exacerbated with less parking.

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Chris Elliott 6 years, 7 months ago

If parents would follow the directions on the posted signs and look at the crossing guards it would work out just fine. Instead there are parents who think picking up a car load of kids at the front door, while the crossing guard is waving them through, is ok. I teach at SPE and was behind such a person today. Traffic flow was stopped and the buses delayed because one mom thought the rules didn't apply to her. Whatever happened to good manners?

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Matthew Stoddard 6 years, 7 months ago

Carrie- Thanks for the update. I wasn't aware that part of the parking lot was out of use. Still, actual parking thru most of the day should be for pretty much just faculty and visitors. As you say, people should be in the pickup lines.

My only point was this is not something for "dogdog" to blame on the current Board. There are too many mitigating factors already involved.

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Carrie Requist 6 years, 7 months ago

Matt - I think we will see that $300,000 "spent" by the community over and over again for years. I, honestly, don't see it as that much of an impact to the overall budget of the school district. Not that I am saying that it was the right thing to do. With no insight into the specific issues between the board and Dr. Howell, I have no way to judge other than through my personal dealings with her, which were few and positive.

But it is the nature of the beast that that $300,000 will come up over and over as money that could have been put to better use.

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fish 6 years, 7 months ago

Why in the heck are we buying more busses if we can't hire people to drive them. What a waste of resources.

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SteamboatJoe 6 years, 7 months ago

It is really unfortunate that the leaders of transportation, nutritional services, curriculum, technology and administrative principals have no one to help consolidate the needs of the different departments. You can thank the current board for making sure the district is functioning in survival mode with blinders as opposed to collaboratively functioning as a unit.

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Carrie Requist 6 years, 7 months ago

forthekids - I agree about manners and what you witnessed was very selfish.

I will also say that I do think the pickup can be confusing and it really took me a good year to figure out when to stay up the driveway and when to sneak around the cars on the driveway to fill up the other lanes. I guess everyone wants to be in the curb lane (at least the elementary parents) and so they go ahead and back up the driveway even when there is room in the other elementary lanes. At some point, when enough cars decide to wait for the curb lane, they block the driveway so no one can get down into the other elementary (or the middle school) lanes and that gets very trying as the cars back up while there is room in the lanes. Not sure what, if anything, could be done there but maybe better stripping could help to make two lanes going into the pickup lanes?

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Matthew Stoddard 6 years, 7 months ago

SteamboatJoe- This has nothing to do with a superintendent; it has to do with a parent not figuring out how they are supposed to be in the pick-up/drop-off queue. Unless, Howell was out there directing traffic each morning, absolutely nothing to do with her being fired. Amazingly enough, this happens even in the movies from 2 decades ago. Remember "Mr. Mom"? Remember Michael Keaton taking his kids to school while the kids are telling him "You're doing it wrong!"? Remember the mom in the other car then telling Keaton the exact same thing?

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SteamboatJoe 6 years, 7 months ago

remember you do not work for the district and have no idea what you are talking about kielbasa.....

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Matthew Stoddard 6 years, 7 months ago

Really, SteamboatJoe? Explain why not having a Superintendent caused this poor woman to not follow the queue that people, as Carrie has been doing for years? You tell me I don't know what I'm talking about so correct me so everyone can see where I'm wrong in this.

Don't worry- I expect you to run and hide behind a Gleason's skirt since you were just asked a tough question. Just breathe into a paper bag if you hyperventilate from having to actually think of an answer.

and here I remember that it was because I don't have kids that I don't understand the school district.

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elk2 6 years, 7 months ago

steambaotjoe: would you just give us a break from your rhetoric. If you're so right, why haven't you solved all the districts problems. Your negative attitude is so boring.

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SteamboatJoe 6 years, 7 months ago

boring enough to make you post?

Get back to your Troeger party elk2.... his few supporters need you to help fill the room

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SteamboatJoe 6 years, 7 months ago

Kielbasa, Nothing I say can change the fact that you support the firing of Donna by John and Denise.

If you can, speak to a few teachers and principals and ask them how much support/leadership they have been offered by our two remaining board members.

Where is John at 8 am and 3 pm? Why isn't he out at the parking lot at his most beloved school helping with a much publicized problem? Have he or Denise come to Camp Soda Creek and asked the principal what they can do to help? It is easy to sit at a board meeting and express concern and offer to help. Those who show up at schools for the right reasons (not dropping off their own kids or visiting your spouse) really mean it.

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Matthew Stoddard 6 years, 7 months ago

Gee, SJoe- It's the 2nd day of school today. Maybe they've gotten around to it. Were you out there looking for them today? Make sure to go back each day just to make sure.

You still didn't explain why not having a Superintendent caused this woman to have traffic problems stemming from 20yrs. You want to take that attitude? Why didn't Simms fix this 10 years ago? It was just as much a problem back then as it is now. Where was her foresight? Was D holding her back even then so as not to fix the traffic problem? If you're going to place blame, go back to the design committee back in the early 80's when it was built. The current board was probably behind them making it that way 2 1/2 decades ago, when Connelly was still teaching Spanish. Yeah! Must be that.

If you want to get truly technical, I have worked for the school district, in the past. I was a temp janitor in 1985 for a month at the Middle School when one of the full-timer's had to undergo surgery.

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Carrie Requist 6 years, 7 months ago

Joe, I think it is unreasonable to expect board members to be working at the schools as you suggest they do. Good or bad, the school board members run for a 5-year term in a un-paid position that has a lot of work and responsibility to it and I appreciate the community members who are willing to make this commitment. I do expect the school board members to occasionally visit the schools so they know what it is they are running (which has been a problem in the past). I think that what you are suggesting is unreasonable. The school board members need to support the schools by running the administration well and doing the reading and research they need to do to make good, informed, overarching decisions.

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mom 6 years, 7 months ago

Get over it. Carpool, bike, ride the bus, or walk. We are all in this together...except that one guy in love with the OLD board.

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dave reynolds 6 years, 7 months ago

people are not responsible when they drive in Steamboat why should that change when picking up their kids....my daughter rides the bus..just like I did when I was in school..whats the big deal

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