As volunteers, parents at McKinley Elementary School have organized walking school buses, secured funding for speed radar signs and bike racks, and taken other steps to create a more pedestrian-friendly school neighborhood.
But even as they networked with parents at other schools to expand their Safe Routes to School efforts, they realized their volunteer power could only stretch so far. Last week, they found out they had secured a $50,676 grant to cover a part-time, district Safe Routes coordinator for three years.
The new employee, targeted to start in the 2015-16 school-year, will be able to seek out more funding options and collaborations for safety around all district schools.
"We've been informally helping other schools but to make this really effective we really needed someone working for the district that was driving this," said Jeff Roznowski, an alderman and parent at McKinley.
Roznowski helped write the grant for the funds along with Sarah Lerand, another McKinley parent who has led the Safe Routes efforts at the school. Awarded by the state Department of Transportation, the funding is coming from the federal Transportation Alternatives Program. The Wauwatosa Safe Routes program was one of 27 projects in the state to share $13 million in TAP funds, including Safe Routes efforts in other districts like Milwaukee.
Lerand said a paid coordinator will be able to identify and pursue more grant opportunities and distribute district resources thoughtfully throughout the schools.
"The coordinator position is going to be able to build on a foundation that has been started over the last several years, branching out safe routes to all the schools," she said. "We have the neighborhood schools and we have the ability for our students to have ways to walk and bike to school; we want to make sure those remain safe."
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