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Thread: Safety Concerns for the new schools

  1. #1
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    Default Safety Concerns for the new schools

    One of the main objections people had to the School Committee’s choice to keep Happy Hollow open as a K-5 rather than Loker was the issue of safety.

    A question that was asked of Jeff Dieffenbach on this forum many times, but never answered was why did they believe that Happy Hollow could handle the additional 100 students and the traffic it would bring as safely as Loker could.

    So with school less than a week away, I ask again, this time with a follow-up, related question:

    1. Specifically, what led you to believe that HH could handle approximately 100 additional students as well as Loker could?
    Considering that Loker can accommodate about 4 times the number of cars/buses safely on its property and considering Loker’s absence of a complicated intersection like HH’s only feet from its driveway at the bottom of a long hill on which cars can easily reach speeds of 45mph as they pull out to pass the cars lined up for drop off, it is difficult to imagine how you came to this conclusion.

    Please use the linked satellite photo, which illustrates each school, and be specific as to what you looked at, what considerations weighed in to your decision, and how you ultimately came to a decision on this that you were comfortable with.

    2. What steps have you taken in order to address the safety concerns that exist at both HH and CH with the influx of new students?

    We’ve heard about the police chief’s proposal to make Adams Lane one way for CH, and the additional police presence at both schools the first week to observe the situation. What specifically will be put in place at HH? What has the School Committee discussed and what has it done since making its final decision on March 10th to make safety the top priority in this reconfiguration, as they said it was?

    I’d really like to know.
    John Flaherty

    Any views expressed are NOT mine alone.
    Wayland Transparency - Facts Without Spin
    http://www.waylandtransparency.com/

  2. #2
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    Default

    Back at the end of February, on my Wayland blog that's essentially given way to this better forum, I wrote:

    The dominant safety factor concerns traffic at each of the two buildings. Based on input from the Wayland Police and Fire Chiefs, and after carefully reading a private report commissioned by families in the Loker neighborhood, I concluded (prior to the 2/25 meeting) that the two buildings would be equal from a safety standpoint in the 90% full configuration expected for 2008-2009 (all classrooms in use, 90% of seats full based on the Committee's class size policy). If there is any safety advantage, it comes with Happy Hollow's newly installed phone system, which allows teachers to dial the office or 911 from each classroom. [*note: on 3/18/2008, I changed "Safety" from "even/minimal favoring of Happy Hollow" to "even," choosing to discount the phone system attribute as essentially the same benefit can be had at Loker for very low cost.]

    The only thing that I have to add is the point--made by many back at the time of the February decision--that both Claypit Hill and Happy Hollow will be operating with enrollments no greater than what those buildings have seen in the recent past, and safely.

    Yes, an accident could happen, and that would be tragic. An accident could happen at Claypit Hill, at Happy Hollow, or at Loker. It could happen based on the physical traffic pattern at any of those sites, based on the mental mindset of the driver or drivers unrelated to the physical pattern, or based on something else.

    I hope that I join everyone in the community not only in hoping that no accidents occur, but in practicing safe driving not only near our schools, but everywhere that we drive.

  3. #3
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    Jeff, thanks for your reply.

    I’m sorry I wasn’t more clear.
    Specifically, what I’m asking you to do is refer to the satellite photo and walk us through why you think HH could be as safe as Loker.

    With all due respect to our police and fire chiefs, they can only tell you that nothing bad has happened in the past and that they appear to be equally safe from their experience and their perspective. They are experts in what they do. Just as the traffic consultant’s report that you read was written by an expert in that field – traffic.

    But as in the stock market, “Past performance is no guarantee of future results”. Far more important than whether there have been any incidents in the past is whether one has the greater potential for incidents in the future.

    I am asking you to look at the satellite photo and answer the question with regard to what we see there. Virtually everyone I’ve heard from who has seen that photo says that Loker appears to be safer by a long shot, that there’s a night & day difference, so it would be helpful to hear your specific, detailed thoughts on the photo.

    Also, since you didn’t come to the same conclusion as the traffic consultant, who overwhelmingly favored Loker as the safer school to handle grades 1-5, are we to assume that you didn’t give it as much weight as the police and fire chiefs’ viewpoints? What exactly did the police and fire chief say, anyway? Specifically? Would you post that please?

    Thanks.

    BTW, you didn’t address the 2nd question. Are we to assume that the School Committee has done nothing in the way of assuring safety at these two schools with significantly increased enrollment since making this decision last March, or are there some details you can give us?


    P.S.
    I almost feel like I should apologize for asking these questions because I come off sounding so damned confrontational, like I'm busting your chops.
    Please understand that is not at all where I'm coming from.
    I believe these are legitimate questions that need to be asked and need to be answered in order to assure the safety of our children and in order to understand how and why this SC makes some decisions that are sometimes so difficult to understand.
    Last edited by John Flaherty; 08-28-2008 at 09:28 AM.
    John Flaherty

    Any views expressed are NOT mine alone.
    Wayland Transparency - Facts Without Spin
    http://www.waylandtransparency.com/

  4. #4
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    The School Committee has discussed the importance of safety at numerous meetings this year. Our administrators certainly did not need this discussion to understand that importance, and as they do every year, work to make our schools as safe as possible. For specifics, I direct you to the Superintendent's office.

    As for your satellite photographs, I appreciate their value as one input in a complex assessment of safety. I would be interested to hear roughly what percentage of the safety equation an expert would say they represent. I can't help but draw an analogy of an athletic team--say, for example, our Ultimate Frisbee players. While their team picture might tell me something about them, I can hardly use it to predict their performance on the field.

    P.S. As for "busting my chops" as being where you're coming from or not, I'd say that your signature says it all. A disinterested observer would have to be forgiven for thinking you're doing exactly that. "Answer" distorts, "Admin" is debunked, "Enrollment" misleads, and "Satellite," well, it's a nice team picture.

  5. #5
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    Default It's not about safety

    John,

    I don't think you are going to get answers from the administration about the satellite photos because I doubt they were studied. Dr. Burton said he recommended Happy Hollow as the school to remain open because it would have new windows, and because the building is "sturdier". He did not mention that it would be safer in any way.
    If "safety" were a priority over reducing the amount of the override, it is my opinion that we would not be in this position today.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mary Barber View Post
    John,

    I don't think you are going to get answers from the administration about the satellite photos because I doubt they were studied. Dr. Burton said he recommended Happy Hollow as the school to remain open because it would have new windows, and because the building is "sturdier". He did not mention that it would be safer in any way.
    If "safety" were a priority over reducing the amount of the override, it is my opinion that we would not be in this position today.
    Mary, I'm afraid you may be right.
    I met with Dr. Burton last February and showed him a large poster print of the satellite photos and he essentially dismissed them as not relevant.

    Yet today, I'm continuing to hear of unsafe situations on a regular basis at Happy Hollow. Recent efforts made by some to get a crosswalk installed at the foot of the driveway were stymied by the fact that there is no sidewalk on one end of the proposed crosswalk, making the creation of a crosswalk impossible by current codes.
    Loker, meanwhile has no such problem.
    It is unfortunate that if an appropriate amount of time and research had gone into this reconfiguration prior to closing Loker, many, if not all of the problems we are now experiencing could have been avoided.

    .
    John Flaherty

    Any views expressed are NOT mine alone.
    Wayland Transparency - Facts Without Spin
    http://www.waylandtransparency.com/

  7. #7
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by John Flaherty View Post
    Yet today, I'm continuing to hear of unsafe situations on a regular basis at Happy Hollow. Recent efforts made by some to get a crosswalk installed at the foot of the driveway were stymied by the fact that there is no sidewalk on one end of the proposed crosswalk, making the creation of a crosswalk impossible by current codes.
    For the life of me I can't understand why every effort raised by parents to create a "safer" situation is dismissed. There are at least 3 crosswalks on School Street that only have a sidewalk on one side- and lead to someone's yard on the other. These are where bus stops are set up. A school needs a crosswalk in my humble opinion.

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