Thursday, June 1, 2023

Making sure K-M students have a safe route to school

At the end of the previous school year, the Kasson-Mantorville district received word that it would be awarded a grant from Safe Routes to School. This national program makes sure that students are able to safely walk or bike to school. 

Since those in the district found out that it had been selected for this grant, they have been working with a state coordinator for the program. In August, the first meeting of the committee was held. The committee for Safe Routes to School includes K-M principals, Kasson and Mantorville city government officials, police officers, school board members and county and state officials. At the first meeting, the committee learned more about the program and the data that needs to be gathered before any action can be taken. 

Currently, the project is in the midst of the data gathering phase. 

We’ve done this in the past, so we’re just updating our data,” Jenny Carrier, K-M Community Education Director and committee member, said. “We’ve had our teachers ask our students a bunch of different questions about how they got to school.”

A parent survey was sent out near the beginning of the school year, as well. All of this guarantees that the district will have an adequate amount of data on how students in Kasson and Mantorville are getting to school every day. 

The committee can not predict exactly what changes they will eventually make at this point, but the data gathering phase is a very important stage in the process to making Kasson and Mantorville safer. 

“The data that we’re getting right now is really going to help drive what our needs are for the community,” Carrier said. “We’re looking at hubs and access points, thinking about the new library and churches and thinking about different places kids go and how they can get there safely.”

Eventually, this data could translate to needs for better sidewalks, better lighting, better snow clearing and more. 

While the grant is geared toward specific schools, the uniqueness of the K-M district means that every student will benefit. 

“This grant is primarily for the elementary school and the middle school, but what’s really nice about it is that we have all three of our schools in the same campus so hopefully everyone can benefit,” Carrier said.

At the end of October, the committee plans to hold a rapid planning meeting. This will help shape the project, and the end goal will start to look a little bit clearer. Carrier expects that much of the work done during this year will be more of the planning for this project. Then next year, the changes to infrastructure within the school district will begin.

In the end, the goal of this project is to simply make the Kasson-Mantorville district safer than it currently is. 

“The common goal of a safe trip to school brings families, neighbors, school officials and community leaders together,” according to Safe Routes to School. “Every child-and community-deserves a safe route to school.”

Carrier echoes this sentiment as a goal for the K-M district.

“Everyone is important, and we want to make it a safe place for everyone,” Carrier said. 

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Dodge County Independent

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301 S. Mantorville Ave.
Plaza 57 • Suite 200
Kasson, MN 55944

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301 S. Mantorville Ave.
Plaza 57 • Suite 200
Kasson, MN 55944