We thank the parent volunteers, MCPS and MCPS Facilities crew, City of Missoula, and the Department of Public Works for their time and efforts that went into making our school a safer place. We plan to continue to monitor and make updates as needed.
After gathering a team of parent volunteers, the PTA Safety committee embarked upon the daunting task of making our school grounds more safe during Pick Up and Drop Off. We collaborated with the PTA Playground committee as a few of these challenges overlapped with their updates. We heard from parents about many unsafe activities (mid-block crossing, kids exiting cars curbside) to more scary stories of near-misses as students darted out on bicycles or on foot from in-between cars or busses. We knew we had to make changes.
We used this document by Feet First to guide us through this process. http://www.feetfirst.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/Arrive-Depart-Handbook-FINAL-for-FF-website.pdf
We started by asking our community. We sent out an all-school survey to our Paxson community asking about the Paxson area during drop off and pick up and compiled those results along with activity surveys done by volunteers (on our school streets) over the course of the 2018/2019 year. We summarized our findings and met as a committee including our principal. We surveyed during the winter and spring and noticed many unsafe behvaiors such as jay walking, kids exiting cars street side, and unsafe driving and bicycling– and the winter really increased the chaotic nature due to the increase in cars.
Over the course of 2018/2019, we had many conversations with MCPS and the City of Missoula and at a meeting in May 2019 presented our requested changes to the city.
We worked with MCPS and the City of Missoula on the following items with the goal of separating modes of transportation (studies have shown this decreases accidents). We surveyed teachers and staff at Paxson requesting their input of changes as well. The PTA completed the work with parent volunteers and also paid for contractors to complete some of the changes.
* We worked with Beach Transportation to move the full size buses to Higgins during drop off and the 3pm pick up. Our goal is to reduce accidents by separating "modes of transportation". Cars were parked in the bus zone, or picking up students across the street with students running our from between buses were creating many unsafe situations. Our crossing guard will assist in monitoring kids acessing the School Entry on Hastings.
* We moved all bicycle parking to outside of the playground fences. Bike racks inside the playground were being used by students as play equipment, and students were playing with other students bikes during recess. The bike storage "cage" on the south end of the playground will be removed due to low use and it was concerning that kids were flipping around the bars over asphalt. There we will recoup the blacktop area for playground usage and potential snow storage area. Our goal is to keep bikes (wheels) out of the playground. Additional bike racks are located outside of the playground and will eventually replaced by some that are more easily used by grade school kids.
* We opened up the fence at the NE corner on Evans and Gerald to allow a wider distance for pedestrian flow at this congested location. This change also eliminated a limited visibility playground area while creating a welcoming entrance set back from the street. It allows for better access for wheelchairs and strollers as there is no longer a stair limiting access.
*The City approved and paid for sump pumps to drain the major puddle, added a 4-way stop and a 2-way stop on Gerald and at a later date is considering adding concrete bulb outs at cross walks to make this street even more safe.
* We created two dedicated Drop off/ Pick up zones on Gerald and Hastings in order to create a natural spot to encourage a consistent traffic flow and eliminate unsafe behaviors. Click on the Drop Off/Pick Up tab to learn how to use these zones!
* The Department of Public Works repainted all curbs, crosswalks, handicap, Bus and Quick Stop Zones in addition to adding new clear signage (arriving soon).
* Partnering with the Playground committee we built a garden fence that blocks off the area behind first grade wing so students can use the garden during recess while being safely visible by recess duties.
* Again working with the Playground Committee, the PTA sponsored half the cost (MCPS playing the other half) to fix our exterior East fence by adding missing fence top and bottom rails.
Thank you for your efforts in making Paxson a safe place for all!
Paxson Safety Committee