Augusta Superintendent Dr. John Black advised the Board of Education last evening that it would be wise to err on the side of caution concerning solutions to the traffics situation at Augusta Middle School.
“We need to take small steps at this time. No one has any guaranties to improve the safety...we’ve narrowed down the options, but taking small steps would be better than spending hundreds of dollars on something that may not even work,” he stated.
Black explained that there have been recent meetings with Augusta City Manager Bill Keefer, Capt. Relph and Chief Brewer with the Augusta Department of Safety to discuss the matter.
“I’ve been very happy with the conversation with Mr. Keefer and Chief Brewer - the dialogue continues to be very positive,” Black added, “The parents and students are being polite during the drop off and pick up times...we all agree that safety is priority.”
The board was presented with Black’s proposal to approach the City Council to change the diagonal crosswalk across State St. from Broadway to AMS front steps to a perpendicular crosswalk from Broadway. The change will also include a cutout on the west side for handicap accessibility. After the crosswalk change, crossing guards would be utilized at Broadway and Clark Streets.
“We are emphasizing and reminding parents and students that the students must exit the vehicles on the right side, get to the nearest side walk and cross at a crosswalk.
Discussion also include meeting with Larry Henry of MKEC to discuss replacing the sidewalk on the west side of State St. by moving it to street level and then grading the dirt in front of the school.
“We believe that these small initial steps need to implemented with the hope and expectation that safety can be achieved without significant expense.”
Black also advised that the City would do the work, but the district would help fund some of the materials, such as appropriate signage reminding students to exit correctly.
“We definitely need crossing guards and maybe a stop light,” board member Larry Winter said.
BOE member Bill Rinkenbaugh agreed, “That would help tremendously and as Chief Brewer said - if law enforcement and crossing guards are present then everyone will do what they are supposed to do. I’ve been very happy with our conversation with Bill Keefer and Chief Brewer. It’s been very positive. This crosswalk is the first step.”
Board president Bob McCalla added, “We all agree that the safety of the children is our priority. I do want to say that this is not strictly a school issue, as it involves a public street. It’s not just our problem so it’s great that the city is working with us to resolve the issue.”
The crosswalk change proposal will be presented to the Augusta City Council in the near future.
Dr. Black also recommended to the board that USD 402 enter into an agreement with the Augusta Community Foundation, which was created last year and is an affiliate of Central Kansas Community Foundation (CKCF), for the purpose of administering scholarships.
“There would be a potential of a larger audience, more structure. We could direct donors to the foundation,
A choice exists for the sponsors of existing scholarships regarding whether they will give approval to have the scholarships transferred to the Augusta Community Foundation or remain with existing investment offices and remain under USD 402. Any new scholarships that are established will be placed with the foundation.
Black outlined the reasons for the recommendation:
• To have funds administered by an organization whose business is to manage endowments, scholarships, memorials and donations
• To set up a vehicle for donors to pass through their wishes to the community
• To have a system that understands state and federal standards and compliance requirements
• To have an opportunity to co-mingle funds for investment with the possibility of greater earnings
• To provide greater assurance that the management of the donation will be maintained
CKCF, as determined by their board of directors, charges an administration fee for management of 1.5 percent on scholarship funds.
Donations of $10,000 or more can be set up as endowment funds. Smaller donations are set up as expendable funds.
It will be the decision of the existing donors whether they give permission to move the funds to the foundation.
Matt Malone with Martin & Malone Financial in Augusta and Augusta City Councilman, addressed the board concerning moving the scholarships to the Augusta Community Foundation, “I’m not against the foundation, but you will be charged 1.5 percent and personally I think the donations need to stay here - we have professionals that can handle it.”
The item will return to the board next month for possible action.