Denison schools seek funding for safer routes to school

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DENISON,TX-Denison city officials say they want to be sure that students have a safer walking route to school in the fall. They are applying for assistance through Texas D.O.T. for the safe routes to school program and they have to have as much information about the conditions around the schools that make it dangerous for children. Rita Kotey has the story.

"The children are either walking in wet grass or they are walking in the street and both those situations aren't good," Tom Speakman said.

Denison community development director Tom Speakman says for the next school year wants to make sure that students have a safer way to get to school.
Two years ago the city received ten thousand dollars from Tx D.O.T. through the safe routes to school program to research which areas desperately need sidewalks.

Three campuses were selected; Terrell elementary, Mayes elementary and B.McDaniel middle school.

"We generated maps to show where the children were walking from to the campuses and that all made up the plan," Speakman said.

He says now they are ready to take the next step and apply for the funds. But with so many schools across the state in need, Tx-dot officials say there is just not enough money to go around. And they may not get the funding they're hoping for. Officials say constructing a sidewalk requires surveying the area and cooperation of people living in that area.

"It’s not just a sidewalk for people to walk on but then you get into other requirements which means you have to have non-barrier features built into your street crossings to all your sidewalk features. They have to be wide enough to accommodate the disabled individual, "Kevin Harris said.

The Texas department of transportation will begin accepting applications for funding by the end of the month. Denison superintendent Henry Scott says even if they do not receive funding this year his focus will be on education about how to be safe on the way to school.

"It’s an ongoing process especially with the younger kids. We spend a lot of time talking with them about safety issues not getting into the car with a stranger and a lot of different things about how to react in the neighborhoods. These things combined are important."

Speakman says if all does go well he hopes the three schools will not be the only ones to benefit from safe routes funding.

"If there are any other campuses out there that need to do that. Hopefully in the future we can expand this program and have sidewalks around all the campuses," Speakman said.

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