Follow-Up to the “No Children Can Walk Home” Story from Magnolia, TX

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Fox 26 Reporter Andrea Watkins wrote what I consider a masterful letter to the school district that has forbidden parents from coming onto school property to pick up their children and walk them home. (It does seem to allow them to wait until all the car and bus children have left — a lengthy process — and then take their kids by foot.)

Here’s the update and her letter, from the Fox 26 Faceook page:

My followup story about Magnolia ISD had to air in our 5pm newscast without any comment from the school district. I got no response about the complaints of the parents last night. Last night, I let them know I would be looking for a response today. After hearing nothing this morning, I compiled an e-mail with specific questions. That was send to Magnolia ISD Communications Director Denise Meyers at Noon today. I called two more times through the afternoon, asking if I was going to get a response. By about 4pm, Meyers returned my call saying they were working on a response with the district’s legal team and it was only partially ready.

It’s fair to say that school districts have better things to do than respond to the media, especially on the media’s deadline. I respect the district’s effort to assemble their response in the way they see fit, taking the time necessary to do so.

That said, I want to make it clear as a bell that I am trying to get a response from the district on these important matters. It’s frustrating to me to be accused of not getting their side of the story, when all along I have been providing the information that they have given me.

Just so everyone sees what I asked for today, below is a copy of my request. I will post the district’s entire response, word for word, as soon as I get it.

My letter to Denise Meyers:

Hi Denise,

Very nice to meet you last night. Thank you for being so welcoming and accommodating to us. I genuinely appreciated it!

Today I’m just reaching out for comment about the statements made by parents at the school board meeting. I recognize it may have been too early for the district to immediately respond to what was said last night. But today I’m asking for an interview or a statement about the following:

Specifically, on the comments made by Heather Burke and Lindsey Simmons, will Bear Branch be revising it’s policy to work with the parents who want to walk their children? What does the district say to the claims that the district is violating the state and federal laws? Will the district apologize to the mothers for sending law enforcement to the mothers’ homes to threaten them with trespassing?

Additionally, during Ginger Russell’s statement, she said the superintendent grossly understated the number of student withdrawals from Bear Branch this year in his letter to parents. She says she has information from a Public Records Request saying the number was 67, not 12. What’s the truth?

In that same letter there is reference to a parent whom the district claims was disruptive and physically threatening to individuals at the school. This is the parent who later in the day received a no trespass warning. Does the school district have a police report to back up their claim? If so, I would like more information about it. If not, why not? One would expect if someone had created a scene like that, law enforcement would have been called into the situation as it was happening. I’m asking because that parent tells me the district’s statements are completely false.

Finally on this topic, many people are asking me what the district’s explanation is for this school needing to have this type of policy. Instead of simply pointing to “safety reasons” will you please provide some specifics about what the problem was, how people were endangered, and how the new policy is an attempt to address it?

In an effort to fully represent the school and the school district’s position on this, I will be posting my questions and your entire, unedited, response, online.

Thank you,

Andrea Watkins
Fox26

And here’s Andrea’s TV report. Go, go, go Andrea! And moms! And us! One of the moms who was visited by law enforcement for walking her child home quotes the Federal “Every Student Succeeds” Free-Range Kids amendment that states parents have the right (barring local laws to the contrary) to choose how their kids get to and from school — even by foot. And thanks again to Sen. Mike Lee for sponsoring that! – L

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Why let kids walk, when they can commute in style?

Why let kids walk, when they can commute in style?

 

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42 Responses to Follow-Up to the “No Children Can Walk Home” Story from Magnolia, TX

  1. Kimberly April 14, 2016 at 12:30 am #

    At my old school this is how we handled it. A staggered dismissal the reason was more about the school being over capacity and the halls simply not able to handle all those kids going in 4 different directions. The times were official but honestly it was more wait until the group in front of you gets passed your pod (grade level groups of 4 classrooms) and then go.

    2:45 Early Buses went to the gym (Drivers had to take roll the first week and once a month after that – federal or state funding grant)

    2:50 Car riders went to the front of the school. Cars had name tags to speed up the process. Kids names were called and a number they stood on that spot car drove there, they jumped in and left. Parents were not allowed to park in the faculty lot and jump out and get their kids because they were running into each other and faculty cars.

    We also had a special car lane outside the SPED Hall for Life Skills (Kids with cognitive disabilities who often have other medical problems so detailed information sometimes has to pass between parents and teachers) PCPD (Kids under 5 who have some type of disability that requires early intervention. It can be cognitive, but the class often also includes children who are deaf, blind, or have physical challenges that require early intervention, training (sign language, mobility PT OT, or training in Braille). Pegasus children of staff members ages 3 and 4 who are in the same class as the PCPD kids. They have an extended day 1 hour after contract time ends for teaching staff)

    2:55 walkers left 2 groups per grade level one going east one going west out side doors that were past where the car riders and buses were driving and walked to the edge of the property were a crossing guard helped them across.

    Late Buses stayed in a teacher’s room until their bus was called. They were given free time on computers/to talk/get homework done. We simply didn’t have enough drivers. We had a lot of bus riders because our school was one block away from a 4 lane 40 mph or higher road in 3 of the 4 directions. In Texas the state pays for transportation if the kids live more than 2 miles away or have to cross a road over 40 mph or divided road with more than 2 lanes) so my whole neighborhood gets transportation across the road.

    BTW a tenth of a mile – given how most schools here are designed I’m guessing she lives maybe 2 houses down from the school.

    When I was there kids didn’t ride bikes – because honestly they didn’t have them it was a very poor neighborhood. The school got a grant this fall and every K – 3rd grader who met an individually set reading goal got a brand new bike, helmet, and lock for the bike. Pretty much every single child got a bike.

  2. BL April 14, 2016 at 4:39 am #

    “It’s fair to say that school districts have better things to do than respond to the media”

    Yeah, like charging the people who pay their salaries with criminal trespass for walking their own children home after class is over.

    This letter is too obsequious by a factor of a hundred.

  3. Powers April 14, 2016 at 9:10 am #

    “the Federal ‘Every Student Succeeds’ Free-Range Kids amendment that states parents have the right (barring local laws to the contrary) to choose how their kids get to and from school ”

    STILL not what it says. It just says that the Every Student Succeeds act doesn’t /itself/ preclude any mode of transportation to school.

  4. bob magee April 14, 2016 at 9:29 am #

    I suspect that there are more issues with this administration then how they organize school dismissal protocols.

  5. lollipoplover April 14, 2016 at 10:32 am #

    I just watched the video and while I agree that children who walk should be allowed to leave at dismissal, not be detained for 30 minutes as a punitive action to what should be a preferred mode of transportation, I also think the parents are using this Every Student Succeeds as their right to walk their child, not the child’s right to walk to school.

    The moms who spoke are inserting their supervision rights to walk their kids, not the child can walk on their own.
    Having law enforcement sent to parent’s homes to threaten them with trespassing is all levels of Texas crazy, but I also think this isn’t so much about the student’s right to walk to school, but the parents insisting they walk them there, which they should be able to walk them to the door, but this seems to be more about the parents than the kids now.

  6. Brooks April 14, 2016 at 10:43 am #

    The fundamental problem here is that schools are now designed for cars, and walking is not a consideration but a nuisance.

  7. ChicagoDad April 14, 2016 at 11:37 am #

    I looked up Bear Branch Elementary in Magnolia on Google maps. It is quite possibly the worst design for an elementary school I have ever seen. It is located on a very busy 5-lane highway. It backs up to a private, gated subdivision. There are no sidewalks, no marked pedestrian crosswalks, no traffic signals. There are big church campuses on either side of the school. It is terrible.

    The school claims that they are just “delaying” the walkers until the cars clear. Why should they have to be delayed? It is probably only a hand full of students and I’m not sure how they would interfere with the car-lanes. Given the video, odds are that the drive through pick-up is a painful, tedious process that probably runs late a lot of the time.

    The parents claim that the constable threatened them with arrest if they walk their kids home AT ALL.
    It sounds like the school’s position is “do what you are told or else” with an accompanying dose of “don’t listen to those parents, they are just complaining because they don’t want to wait their turn”. It is a clever tactic: make your opponent sound selfish and crazy, while threatening them behind the scenes.

    It is time to close this school, sell the land and start over.

  8. Nicole R. April 14, 2016 at 11:52 am #

    “The fundamental problem here is that schools are now designed for cars, and walking is not a consideration but a nuisance.”

    I agree. Walking to and from school is good for kids – both for fitness and psychological reasons. If I were designing a school, I think I’d consider putting the “car-rider” drop off and pick-up at a satellite location a block or so from the school, with a large parking area of it’s own.

  9. James Pollock April 14, 2016 at 12:10 pm #

    “quotes the Federal “Every Student Succeeds” Free-Range Kids amendment that states parents have the right (barring local laws to the contrary) to choose how their kids get to and from school”

    it STILL DOES NOT SAY THAT. It HAS NEVER SAID THAT. It will CONTINUE TO NOT SAY THAT into the forseeable future..

    Other than that…
    I’m sure the school district’s legal team is taking so long because they can’t find a way that this policy isn’t a civil rights violation.

  10. HD April 14, 2016 at 12:12 pm #

    I’m 32. When my elementary school ended, the bell rang and we all ran out (even the kindergarteners)! The kids going to the buses walked themselves to the buses in the back and everyone else either walked home or found their parent who was waiting outside.

  11. Curious April 14, 2016 at 12:50 pm #

    Suburban schools are designed for SUV’s and Caravans and those who pay the highest school taxes.
    It’s not about kids or families. It is about “getting the job done”

  12. James Pollock April 14, 2016 at 12:51 pm #

    ““The fundamental problem here is that schools are now designed for cars, and walking is not a consideration but a nuisance.”

    I disagree; the problem is that schools are NOT designed for cars, but people insist on driving their kids to and from them anyway.

    There are a couple of occasions when driving to school rather than walking is appropriate… science-fair day, school-play day (because costumes), days when it’s raining heavily enough to flood the streets. These are few and far between.

  13. Curious April 14, 2016 at 12:56 pm #

    When did schools cease to be user friendly?
    Time for a change.
    Parents revolt! Your kids deserve better.

  14. Michelle April 14, 2016 at 1:01 pm #

    @James and @Powers,

    I am amazed by those who insist on misrepresenting this bill – or believing the misrepresentation – and who dismiss those who point out the truth as haters or pessimists.

    Otherwise, yay to the parents who are standing up to this obviously ridiculous policy.

  15. Michelle April 14, 2016 at 1:04 pm #

    @James,

    “I disagree; the problem is that schools are NOT designed for cars, but people insist on driving their kids to and from them anyway.

    There are a couple of occasions when driving to school rather than walking is appropriate… science-fair day, school-play day (because costumes), days when it’s raining heavily enough to flood the streets. These are few and far between.”

    I agree. If the school in my neighborhood was designed for cars, then the traffic at school pickup time would not completely clog our neighborhood.

  16. Beth April 14, 2016 at 1:06 pm #

    I’m not calling anyone a hater or a pessimist, but maybe those taking such a thrill from cutting down those who reference this bill could just take it up privately with Lenore, since she’s the one who mentioned it initially.

  17. BL April 14, 2016 at 1:18 pm #

    @HD
    “The kids going to the buses walked themselves to the buses in the back and everyone else either walked home or found their parent who was waiting outside.”

    I went to three school districts in three states K-12 (one suburb and two small towns) and I don’t remember anyone who was regularly driven to school. Walking or the bus, or driving myself (as a HS senior).

    The only time I was ever driven to or from school was when I had something like a doctor’s appointment during school hours.

  18. Backroads April 14, 2016 at 1:20 pm #

    I had the same experience as BL. If walking was reasonable, you generally walked. If walking wasn’t reasonable, you were bused. Simple.

    I currently teach at a charter without a transportation system, so, yeah, driving kids is kind of the norm. But the kids who live within walking distance still seem to walk.

  19. lollipoplover April 14, 2016 at 1:27 pm #

    “Suburban schools are designed for SUV’s and Caravans and those who pay the highest school taxes.
    It’s not about kids or families. It is about “getting the job done.”

    I think schools and townships are responsive to squeaky wheels. Parents who expect door-to-door service make quite a few phone calls as they are usually waiting in car lines. Creating an infrastructure around the school that has no sidewalks and is not pedestrian friendly and has a dismissal policy that penalizes pedestrians is the most moronic, short-sighted piece of flaming sh@t I’ve seen lately.

    Why are the only options Drive-thru or Delivery? When did the students become deliverable goods and not citizens with rights to choose their best method of transportation, especially if they live two houses from the school!

    I envision Boss Hogg from the Dukes of Hazzard harassing these parents and kids, sending out law enforcement Enis for *trespassing* at the kid’s elementary school. Good for these parents! Fight this for your kids, don’t just pull them out. Just because this school is on a highway doesn’t mean it can’t be made accessible for ALL students, especially by foot. What do they do for evacuations and emergencies if there are no sidewalks? How can a public school restrict access based on car or bus transportation, isn’t this discrimination?
    Ask your state representative to do a transportation study of this elementary school. Hold schools and townships accountable for responsible use of public land to support all methods of transportation, not just auto.

    And don’t these long lines of idling cars produce emissions and lower air quality around the school?
    What about the asthmatics? These car lines are worse for their lungs than smoking…but all schools are no-smoking zones because we wouldn’t want to damage young, healthy lungs. But it’s perfectly OK to do it with FORCING car and bus transportation.
    How idiotic and selfish.

  20. James Pollock April 14, 2016 at 1:48 pm #

    “I’m not calling anyone a hater or a pessimist, but maybe those taking such a thrill from cutting down those who reference this bill could just take it up privately with Lenore, since she’s the one who mentioned it initially.”

    I’m not calling anybody a relentless busybody, but maybe those who get off on repeatedly telling other people what to do could maybe turn down the passive aggression and MYOB instead of worrying so much about what other people are doing. Just a suggestion, of course.

  21. EricS April 14, 2016 at 2:18 pm #

    This is a perfect example of institutions acting on the fear of litigation. Although I completely disagree with the districts asinine policy, regarding this matter, I wouldn’t be surprised that the main reason they did this was to protect themselves from parents who like to sue, to make easy money. Still doesn’t make that a good reason, especially when children’s and parents’ rights are violated.

    Typical over reaching by authorities. And if you involve cops who have the paranoid, fearful thinking of many parents today, well then you have a crap load of problems coming your way. Sanctimony, fear, ignorance, and insecurity, along with having authority, are a bad combination. Which these district board members and police seem to have an abundance of.

  22. Donald April 14, 2016 at 5:12 pm #

    ‘This is done because of safety reasons’

    ‘Safety reasons’ have been used as ‘cart blanch’ for decades. It has been used the same as, “BECAUSE I’M THE MOMMY THAT’S WHY”!

    In the past, ‘for safety reasons’ couldn’t be challenged. I’m glad to see that’s changing.

  23. Donald April 14, 2016 at 5:46 pm #

    I disagree 100% with the school. Having said that I like to try to see their side.

    For the last 30 years there have been a steady increase of administration workload. Administrator outnumber teachers. Even the teacher’s role has changed to be more of an administrator and less of a teacher.

    I speculate that this policy was put in place ‘for their convenience’. However I don’t mean to sound condescending. I am sickened at the administration workload that keeps being forced down their throat. Shit trickles downhill and the children end up catching it all.

    This continual growing administration workload is as if they are a juggler. First they juggle 3 balls, then 4, 5, 6, and 7. More balls are being forced onto them. I suspect that this policy of ‘punishing students for walking home’ is their way (the school’s) of trying to survive.

  24. Roxanne Chester April 14, 2016 at 6:23 pm #

    I happen to live just about 3 miles from this school. There is ONE residential apartment complex within walking distance. The road in front of the school is an old rural road whose only improvement was to put in deep drainage ditches on either side. There is NO sidewalk nor is there even a shoulder to the road. It is just wide enough to allow cars in each lane to pass each other. Right in front of the school is a busy strip mall with a Target, Marshalls, PetsMart, and assorted fast food places, tanning salons, etc. About 500 ft further down the road is a large Home Depot. I have found myself trapped on this road during dismissal time because I forgot to check the time before I set out on errands. There are cars lined up from both directions with NO room to pass because it is a narrow 2-lane road. Any mom that complains about not being able to walk her child home in what is clearly unsafe conditions should have her home inspected by CPS. The ONLY reasonable solution is to wait until the car traffic abates before releasing (what is likely fewer than 10) walkers. Because of the lack of access and the fact that MOST kids (it was until the past 5 years still bordered by a horse farm and a pig farm) take a school bus to their rural home, the people who pick their kids up start lining the road about 30 mins before dismissal.
    Usually when a story is too ridiculous to be believed, it is because not all the facts were disclosed by an angry ranter! This case is no different.

  25. Vaughan Evans April 14, 2016 at 6:34 pm #

    People are paranoid.
    When my mother moved to Windsor Ontario in 1928(she was 139 her mother was paranoid.
    She was not allowed outside-without her 9-year old brother.
    From 1928-1943, my mother and her brother Cecil were intimate friends.
    Cecil screened my mother’s boyfriends-to prevent her from being linked to males who would behave indiscretely.
    In some ways, it was good that I was born a male.
    I had more freedom than I ever WOULD have had-if I had been born female.
    (I was born in 1949. Three years later, my parents adopted a baby boy.)
    I lived in Vancouver, British Columbia Canada.
    The population was 375,000 in1949. It is 600,000 today.

    -My mother was vehemently anti-gay and anti-feminist. She told me (in 1990)that she would no more let a boy of 10 play unsupervised that she would let a girl of that same age play unsupervised.

  26. James Pollock April 14, 2016 at 6:35 pm #

    “There is ONE residential apartment complex within walking distance.”

    Perhaps the parents who want to walk from the school, with their children, want to walk to a vehicle which is parked in a less traffic-choked location.

    In any case, the school should be suggesting to parents that the kids stay at the school until traffic subsides, not ordering them.

  27. Donald April 14, 2016 at 7:36 pm #

    Micromanagement has become a plague.

    We have seen countless examples of over zealous rules, (such as this one) we’ve seen it in ‘parent assisted esteem’ (not self esteem), and we’ve seen it where parents argue with teachers so that they can negotiate a better grade.

    I’m all for condemning this rule. However in order to fight it, I’d like to better understand what prompted this rule in the first place. I think the fact that schools are under constant bombardment from parents has a lot to do with it. I wouldn’t be surprised if that before this rule was implemented, many parents complained because of the walking students would delay traffic. They can also use the ‘safety’ argument. Many people like to bitch. Whether or not their complaint is legit or pedantic. I feel sorry for the school because they have to deal with pedantic parents so often.

  28. K April 14, 2016 at 8:15 pm #

    Did anyone catch the free-range mention in this week’s Dear Prudence?http://www.slate.com/articles/life/dear_prudence/2016/04/dear_prudence_my_husband_won_t_have_sex_while_i_m_pregnant.html

    Man, helicopter parents love to say, “I’m not a helicopter parent but . . .”

  29. Diane April 14, 2016 at 8:46 pm #

    Roxanne, thank you for the extra info. Sounds lie the school district or local gov’t did not sufficiently fund this school building and need to budget for sidewalks posthaste, especially to the apt complex where I suspect the students with the least resources, transportation wise may reside.

    Be that as it may, people should still be allowed to walk up and check their kids out of the dismissal line. The principal is possibly addressing the wrong problem:

    1) are the parents that walk up blocking the queue for drivers by parking on the side of the road? A traffic enforcement officer writing those tickets would probably take care of that in a few afternoons.

    2) are those parents parking in private lots and walking up? The owners of those lots can get some tow truck drivers to hang out and tow away.

    It would be interesting to find out exactly how this situation developed.

  30. czman75 April 15, 2016 at 1:55 am #

    In 12 years of public school, the only time I rode in a bus was on field trips. I walked to school every day when the weather allowed. Elementary school was a little more than a mile, Jr. and Sr. Schools were at least 2 miles away.

  31. JP Merzetti April 15, 2016 at 8:05 am #

    Informative, ChicagoDad.
    Perhaps the main problem here is in the design. Sounds like a perfectly hellish way to go about locating a school within a (so called) community…..when in fact, it is no community at all (not for kids, anyway) – just for cars.
    Talk about training kids to get ready for commuting gridlock!
    Just another example of how autokind trumps humankind.
    Some quack of a suburban designer built it, and now they have to live with it.
    What’s next in our future? Drive-thru schools?

  32. GoogleMaster April 15, 2016 at 9:18 am #

    For those not from around here, Magnolia, TX, is a formerly rural outpost about 45 NNW of Houston. In fact, the highway that Bear Branch Elementary is on is one of the state’s many “Farm to Market” roads that were originally created to allow farmers and ranchers to transport their goods and livestock around the state. Up until 5-10 years ago, there was nothing out in Magnolia but family farms and homesteads. Then, the suburbs finally sprawled that far, and developers have been plopping down entire neighborhoods of tract homes without regard for the infrastructure that hasn’t caught up. I think FM 1488 is undergoing a widening project, but that may just make the situation worse for the school. As someone pointed out, the big box stores are approaching the school, so it’s only a matter of time. If you’re wanting to know the future of this road, plug “FM 1960” into Google maps.

  33. GoogleMaster April 15, 2016 at 9:19 am #

    45 _miles_ NNW

  34. Papilio April 15, 2016 at 10:14 am #

    From the comments of Chicagodad and people who live near this school it sure sounds like the planners were the most negligent adults here, not the parents. Like someone else said, what about user friendliness?

    @Michelle: “If the school in my neighborhood was designed for cars, then the traffic at school pickup time would not completely clog our neighborhood.”

    Depends. Cars are the most space-wasting means of transportation, so if you WANT clogged up streets, better make sure everyone drives, for instance by designing (solely) for cars…

  35. James Pollock April 15, 2016 at 2:25 pm #

    “Depends. Cars are the most space-wasting means of transportation, so if you WANT clogged up streets, better make sure everyone drives, for instance by designing (solely) for cars…”

    There is a story about an American university that struggled with its landscaping. The problem was, students kept short-cutting across the lawn, which wore a pathway into the grass. No amount of “keep off the grass” was sufficient to deter them. They tried enforcing it with campus security, but that only worked when there was a campus security guy right there… if there wasn’t one, the old short-cutting habits returned. The school finally asked a prominent figure noted for wisdom (who I can’t recall at the moment, because it’s not really important to the story) how they could get the students to stop short-cutting through the grass.

    The solution offered, of course, was “why don’t you put the sidewalks where people want to walk?”

    The point being, that in today’s American culture, a lot of parents seem to want to drive their kids to school. The reasons for this are many and complex, and approximately none of them are under the control of the local grade schools. And the school may have been/probably was designed in a time when driving the kids to school wasn’t the most common method… kids walked or rode a bike if they lived close, and took a school bus if they did not. The notion that a parent would drive a child to school absent something like a doctor’s appointment or the dreaded missing-of-the-school-bus, was absurd. It’s not like we can now go back and give the grade schools a 400-spot parking lot with multiple-lane access to the nearest arterial.

  36. BL April 15, 2016 at 3:35 pm #

    @James Pollock
    ” It’s not like we can now go back and give the grade schools a 400-spot parking lot with multiple-lane access to the nearest arterial.”

    Old schools are retired (torn down or repurposed) and new ones built all the time.

    The sad thing in my area of small towns and farmland is the tendency to build the new ones away from the town, out in the country, so everyone has to be bussed or driven.

  37. James Pollock April 15, 2016 at 4:23 pm #

    “Old schools are retired (torn down or repurposed) and new ones built all the time.”

    How nice for you to live somewhere where this is financially possible.

    Alas, my state enacted property-tax reform that placed the state in charge of all school funding, and then began a systematic, two-decade defunding of the public school system. We have hundred-year-old buildings still in use, and most of the suburban districts have schools bulging at the seams because they can’t afford the capital costs to acquire land and build more schools. Meanwhile, several rural counties reflexively vote down any tax levy, regardless of purpose (or need) and then beg the federal government for funding for county services. (Once, revenues from federal lands within those counties were shared with the county governments; as the federal government de-emphasized logging on those lands, revenue-sharing with the counties declined accordingly. So they went with the oh-so-Republican solution of demanding that the federal government subsidize the county governments directly. All of the libraries are long-since closed, the state has reportedly considered taking over the functions of the county Sheriff’s offices.

    Anyways, no, just tearing down the old schools and building new ones is not an available solution.

    For comparison… the school district I graduated from in the mid-80’s had just grown from one high-school to two when I started HS. They now have 4, and need a 5th. The suburban district my daughter graduated from had three high-schools in the mid-80’s, they now have 5 and need a 6th. (They’ve been cheating by creating specialty schools to draw off some of the pressure… we now have, in addition to the 5 neighborhood high schools, an arts magnet school, a heath-careers high school, a science-and-technology high school, the “alternative” school for pregnant teens and students who have to work to support themselves, and the “Early College High School”… students take classes at the local community college, which count as both college credits and towards high school graduation. Some classes at the local neighborhood high school start the semester with more than 50 kids in them. This works OK for marching band, less well for AP Calculus.

  38. Diane April 15, 2016 at 5:17 pm #

    Looks like Bear Branch elementary moved to its existing campus in 2002. Car-centric parents should have been no surprise here. I live in Houston. The way Texas funds its schools is not perfect, and the way many school districts spend school funds is, well, way imperfect. I still think a sidewalk wouldn’t have been too much to ask. But I don’t think this problem is because of the lack of a sidewalk!

  39. James Pollock April 15, 2016 at 5:51 pm #

    ” I still think a sidewalk wouldn’t have been too much to ask”

    When I was in grade school myself, in the early 1970’s, the school was adjacent to a major arterial road (one that had a freeway on-ramp) but that arterial had no sidewalks. Most of the kids who walked to school did so by walking down the quiet back-street (that my house was on) but this wasn’t possible for everybody. Additionally, directly across the major arterial was the local junior-high.

    It was suggested that the parents should agitate at the city council to have sidewalks put in.

    It’s 40 years later, and sidewalks for that street have just been announced… they hope to have them completed within the next ten years.

    (In the late 70’s and on into the early 80’s, the county was unable to pass road levies, and had to revert many streets to gravel. Between the end of my grade school and the start of my sister’s grade school years, we moved to a new housing development… literally, we went into one of the first houses completed and they built out in four phases. We had shiny new perfect streets within the housing development, because the developers were required to install them. In the first phase, only the through streets were completed. Then they added side streets and cul-de-sacs as they build the houses that fronted on them. Anyways, to go anywhere, you went on the nice smooth brand-new streets, to the county-maintained gravel road that linked the development to the road system, to the state-maintained highway.
    They converted the gravel road to paved around the time I left for college. It still does not have sidewalks.

  40. BL April 15, 2016 at 6:58 pm #

    @James Pollock
    “How nice for you to live somewhere where this is financially possible.”

    We’re hardly rich around here. Small towns. Maybe the cost of living and building is less (come to think of it, that may be the reason they build new ones out in the sticks. Alas). At any rate, we still have plenty of old school buildings, but there are new ones too.

    “several rural counties reflexively vote down any tax levy,”

    If they think they’ll be funding big-city projects, I don’t blame them.

    “the oh-so-Republican solution”

    We’re about 75% Republican around here.

    “All of the libraries are long-since closed”

    Some cut back hours around here, but still open.

    “an arts magnet school, a heath-careers high school, a science-and-technology high school, the “alternative” school for pregnant teens and students who have to work to support themselves,”

    I think we have one tech school, and that’s part-time for kids who get English and history and such at their regular schools. We also have Catholic parochial schools.

    Since you claim new schools can’t be built in your area, I presume those tech-health-pregnant schools were old buildings repurposed?

    However, your original point was that existing schools couldn’t be retrofitted for car dropoff and pickup. Unfortunately (since I’d prefer that kids walked like I did) some here have done exactly that, through the means of extending existing parking areas by paving over adjoining playgrounds and/or athletic fields.

  41. James Pollock April 15, 2016 at 7:41 pm #

    “’several rural counties reflexively vote down any tax levy,’
    If they think they’ll be funding big-city projects, I don’t blame them.”

    Rural counties, by definition, don’t have big cities, or big city projects, in them. The “O+C timber counties” are between 200 and 300 miles from Portland.

    “’the oh-so-Republican solution’
    We’re about 75% Republican around here.”

    Yeah, that’s about what the timber counties are, except for Lane County (home of the UofO).and Marion County (home of the state capitol)

    “’an arts magnet school, a heath-careers high school, a science-and-technology high school, the “alternative” school for pregnant teens and students who have to work to support themselves,’

    Since you claim new schools can’t be built in your area, I presume those tech-health-pregnant schools were old buildings repurposed?”

    The alternative school has been there all along, but supports a very small number of students. Most of the rest operate in leased spaces, except that the school district took over a building that the university system used to own. It used to be shared by the local school district, the state university system, the local community college, and probably some others.

    “However, your original point was that existing schools couldn’t be retrofitted for car dropoff and pickup.”

    Not easily.
    Here’s a view of the local grade school. (Note that if you turn around 180 degrees, you’ll be looking at the local suburban high-school, which has nearly 3000 students.
    https://www.google.com/maps/uv?hl=en&pb=!1s0x54950f58079d6de7:0xf69e56376f867ece!2m5!2m2!1i80!2i80!3m1!2i100!3m1!7e115!4s/maps/place/rock%2Bcreek%2Belementary/@45.5491474,-122.8675328,3a,75y,271.08h,90t/data%3D*213m4*211e1*213m2*211sGNKVynoyfYq6RhuAd7wJCQ*212e0*214m2*213m1*211s0x0:0xf69e56376f867ece!5srock+creek+elementary+-+Google+Search&imagekey=!1e2!2sGNKVynoyfYq6RhuAd7wJCQ&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjP6Mvv5JHMAhUN-GMKHXBqDNgQpx8IgAEwCg

    This school fronts onto a major arterial. There are walking/bike paths out the back side of the school property onto local streets, but this intersection is the only way to drive in or out. This intersection is also the signal light for entry to the student parking lot… which is connected to another exit (with no light) farther up the street. Keep going another quarter mile up the street, and you can visit the local branch of the massive Portland Community College.

    The challenge is the cost of land in the area. Property big enough to put a house on is more than $100K, finding a plot big enough to put a school on (at all) is a challenge, and the competition for plots that large is fairly intense.

  42. Jens W. April 16, 2016 at 2:55 am #

    I find this whole dismissal policy thing weird. Back in my day there was no such thing at all, and I believe there still isn’t (in Germany).
    After the last lesson the kids just walk out, it’s up to them to get home in whatever way.