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Re: Crossing Guards and Buses for Laurel

From: domainremoved <Jennifer>
Date: Thu, 25 Aug 2016 14:12:58 -0700

Thank you, Maurice, for your reply and attention to this matter.

As a former market research professional, I would strongly encourage the
district to survey Laurel parents on their expected mode(s) of
transportation to Upper (and possibly even Lower) Laurel. Questions could

   - How many children do you have attending Lower Laurel and Upper Laurel
   (have them indicate # for each and have them give grade level)?

   - In which neighborhood do you live (you can group together families:
   Flood Park, Menlo Oaks, Vintage Oaks, South of Seminary, Coleman
   Apartments, Willows (south of Gilbert), Willows (north of Gilbert), Other
   (Please specific: _____). (I realize that you have their address, but if
   you group them at the beginning of the survey you can then target specific
   questions tailored to families in different neighborhoods (use skip logic
   in the survey). For example, you could ask families that are west of Willow
   (Flood Park, Menlo Oaks, Vintage Oaks, etc.) and that plan to walk or bike,
   if they plan to cross Willow at Coleman or Gilbert. This would help you
   figure out where to put a crossing guard.

   - On how many days of the week do you intend to do the following during
   the *morning* commute? Even if you are unsure of your exact plans,
   please answer the questions based on your best guess of what you plan to
   do. (Ask the following questions for Lower Laurel and Upper Laurel, so the
   whole set of questions will be given 4 times...one for morning Lower, one
   for morning Upper, one for afternoon Lower, one for afternoon Upper
   [depending on how they answered the question above, you can skip one of the
   campuses if they don't have a kid going to both campuses)(show each option
   and have them indicate the number of days of each...total should equal 5):

   - Walk with your child(ren) and/or have another adult walk with your
      - Send your child(ren) walking alone or with a friend (only
      acceptable to Upper Laurel)
      - Bike with your child(ren) and/or have another adult walk with your
      - Send your child(ren) biking alone or with a friend (only acceptable
      to Upper Laurel)
      - Send your child(ren) on the school bus from a neighborhood bus stop
      - Send your child(ren) on the Laurel Connector school bus from the
      other campus
      - Drive to school and drop only your child(ren) in the drop-off lane
      - Carpool to school and drop your the carpool (includes at least one
      additional child not in your family) in the drop-off lane
      - Drive to school, park and walk your child(ren) to school
      - Carpool to school, park and walk your carpool (includes at least
      one additional child not in your family) to school
      - Other (please specify:________)

   - (For Upper Laurel for each mode of transportation selected above, you
   can ask follow up questions. Here is an example for walking, either with an
   adult, or just the child: You indicated that at least one morning a week
   you plan to have your child(ren) walk to school. Are you more likely to
   have them enter Upper Laurel via Elliott or Oak Court? (You could ask the
   same thing for biking.)

   - (You can ask parents where they plan to park, how many kids they plan
   to carpool, etc. For those who are not utilizing walking or biking at all,
   you can ask what it would take for them to have their child(ren) walk or
   bike [is it because of safety, timing, etc.?].)

   - (You can ask about which routes they plan to take, etc.)

As you can tell I have a lot of thoughts about how this survey could look
and how the data derived could be used to guide both District and City
action. While I would love to donate my time to make this happen, I
unfortunately, am not available to undertake this project at this time (I
need to focus on my family right now). That being said, please consider
doing something like this...there are many who could do this for you. Also,
please note that my suggestions above are just a sample of what could be
asked. This could go in many directions.

Thank you again for your time.


On Thu, Aug 25, 2016 at 7:29 AM, Maurice Ghysels <mghysels_at_(domainremoved)

> Dear Jen,
> Thank you for attending the City Council meeting. Your advocacy and
> communication in the area of student safety and traffic congestion are very
> important and effective, as we all are interested in continuing to make our
> student safety our top priority. We are collecting everyone's thoughts and
> ideas on the placement of crossing guards, and surely your input here is
> greatly appreciated. We will also do our part in what we can lead per your
> email below.
> As you know MPCSD exclusively pays for crossing guards, although they are
> funded by cities in many municipalities. You may recall that MPCSD had no
> "professional" crossing guards five years ago, and, again, this is an area
> where we have deployed guards when needed, not compromising on student
> safety. We have made several requests to the City to help us fund these
> positions. Nevertheless, we will place guards in the crossings where
> needed.
> Regarding the Busing, we do plan to offer more busing for students, and
> will continue to examine how more busing can help with traffic safety and
> congestion (i.e., student safety).
> Jen, please don't hesitate to call me to talk about this matter further.
> My cell is 650-863-6295.
> My best,
> Maurice
> Best regards,
> Maurice
> *____*
> Dr. Maurice Ghysels
> Superintendent
> Menlo Park School District
> *Every child achieves academic excellence Every child becomes
> emotionally and physically stronger Every child discovers and grows
> their talents*
> On Wed, Aug 24, 2016 at 9:44 AM, Jennifer Wolosin <jenwolosin_at_(domainremoved)
> wrote:
>> Dear MPCSD School Board Members,
>> Last night the Menlo Park City Council agreed to direct City staff to
>> prioritize a Safe Routes study for Laurel. While the City owns a lot of the
>> to-do's regarding making our streets safer for our kids, from what I've
>> learned over the past month, there are two main things that the MPCSD must
>> do as well: fund more crossing guards and commit more resources to resident
>> busing. There must be a crossing guard at Willow Road. In addition, there
>> must be a bus route for parents with kids at both schools. If the District
>> doesn't have the funds for these items, I would urge you to connect with
>> the MPAEF and/or the Laurel PTO to help. These issues must be addressed.
>> Thank you for your consideration.
>> Sincerely,
>> Jen Wolosin
>> P.S. Below are my comments from the City Council meeting last night that
>> outline the District's role in Safe Routes:
>> August 23, 2016
>> Dear City Council Members,
>> My name is Jen Wolosin and I am writing to urge the City Council to adopt
>> the Transportation Commission and Bicycle Commission's recommendations to
>> direct City Staff to conduct a Laurel Safe Routes to School study. While
>> Staff Report 16-147-CC suggests waiting for the 2017 Council goal
>> setting/work plan, I would like the City to begin the 18-month study right
>> away. Upper Laurel is set to open on October 17, 2016. Planning for the new
>> Laurel campus began in 2014, with the passage of Measure A. We have already
>> lost 2 years of planning and with traffic in our neighborhoods only getting
>> worse, we can not wait any longer.
>> As you may know, I was called to action in July upon reading the
>> Transportation Department Staff Report 16-008-TC that outlined
>> recommendations for the streets directly surrounding Upper Laurel. Given
>> that so many Laurel students would be having to cross Willow Road to attend
>> the new campus, and that biking and walking were strongly being encouraged
>> by the school, I found the limited to scope of the staff recommendations
>> alarming. After attending the Transportation Commission meeting on July
>> 13th and expressing my concerns, I took it upon myself to write the Laurel
>> Mom Plan, which then became the Laurel Connector Bike Plan.
>> The original Laurel Connector Bike Plan (Dated July 21st) was my attempt
>> to dream up the optimal route that would allow the safest passage for
>> children traveling from Upper Laurel to the San Mateo County Line on
>> Coleman Ave. The plan did not take into consideration the needs of
>> neighbors and instead was written solely to maximize safety for kids. While
>> an online petition I created on Change.org received 96 supporters, many in
>> the community voiced concerns with the one-sided nature of my
>> recommendations. I also learned that at least some of those who signed the
>> petition may not have thought through the black and white nature of the
>> proposed changes. The biggest concern regarding the original plan had to do
>> with 24/7 No Parking along Gilbert in order to accommodate buffered bike
>> lanes. After listening to and meeting with neighbors, including the
>> businesses along Menalto at Gilbert, I realized that I would need to revise
>> my original plan to better balance the needs of neighbors with those of
>> kids on bikes.
>> The REVISED Laurel Connector Bike Plan (Updated July 27th), in my
>> opinion, incorporated the feedback I had received from community members as
>> to parking needs, while still maintaining enough safety measure to ensure
>> that children could bike safely to school. Also, whereas the original plan
>> was black and white in nature and black and white in terms of how feedback
>> could be collected, the REVISED plan was more flexible and open. Instead of
>> calling for parking restrictions on many streets, the REVISED plan
>> presented trade-offs and various options. I also created a Survey Monkey
>> survey that allowed for neighbors to provide feedback on different parts of
>> the plan and to share their opinions, whether they were in favor or against.
>> Because this issue is of great importance to me (I have an 8-year old
>> daughter that will attend 3rd grade at Upper Laurel and a 6-year old that
>> will be in 1st grade at Lower Laurel, and I am very concerned about traffic
>> safety in our area), I have gone to great lengths to get neighbors to pay
>> attention to this issue in our community. I have not only put myself into
>> the limelight on NextDoor (which is a bit scary), but I have also held
>> meetings with neighbors, businesses, Bicycle Commissioners, Transportation
>> Department staff, Menlo Park City School District staff and others. I have
>> led a group of stakeholders, including Justin Murphy, Menlo Park Public
>> Works Director, on a bike ride along the proposed REVISED Laurel Connector
>> Bike Route, attended a National Night Out event on Menalto and Gilbert and
>> personally mailed over 370 letters to every resident along the route, which
>> included the REVISED plan and link to the survey. I have spent my summer
>> trying to make our streets safer, to the great annoyance of my family, all
>> with the hope that tonight, you will understand the importance of taking
>> action on making our streets safer.
>> I am no longer advocating for the REVISED Laurel Connector Bike Plan. My
>> plan was a wish list, an amateur's stab at what it would take to get a mom
>> to send her kid to school safely on a bike. As I’ve mentioned before, I am
>> not a transportation engineer and there are processes set up to make
>> changes in our city. I have learned that making transportation enhancements
>> is not an easy thing to do...since what is an “enhancement” to many, can be
>> seen as a “detriment” to others. The results of the Survey Monkey survey
>> clearly show that to be the case (Please note that the numbers below are as
>> 8/20/16, with 102 responses. Today, 8/23/16 there are 127 responses, but I
>> haven’t yet had a chance to tabulate the new results...I will update as
>> soon as possible.):
>> -
>> Approximately ⅔ of MP Resident not along the proposed route supported
>> the plan.
>> -
>> Approximately ¾ of MP Resident along route did not support any
>> restricted parking.
>> -
>> About half of MP Residents along route supported other aspects of the
>> plan.
>> -
>> The biggest resident concerns included restricted parking, additional
>> stop signs, lowering speed limits, the route not being direct enough and
>> the fact that the streets were safe enough “as-is”.
>> As you know as City Council members, reaching consensus is
>> difficult...but I would argue not impossible. On Saturday I met at Cafe Zoe
>> with a handful of residents that live along Gilbert and in the Willows that
>> were concerned about and extremely opposed to the REVISED Laurel Connector
>> Bike Plan. While we did not agree on everything, I am hopeful that over
>> time, we could find common ground. These neighbors, many of whom have been
>> living in the Willows for more than 30 years, also enlightened me on past
>> traffic calming efforts aimed to improve speeding, congestion and safety in
>> the neighborhood. Most of these past initiatives failed due to lack of
>> consensus. We must try again and we must try harder. I am not only here to
>> urge City Council to prioritize Safe Routes, I am also here to urge my
>> neighbors to work together to find ways to help each other. It’s easy to be
>> cynical. It’s harder to rise above it and seek out creative solutions. We
>> are smart people. We can do this.
>> I have learned over the past month that this is a challenging, complex
>> and emotionally charged issue. I have also learned that it will take
>> efforts from three main groups of stakeholders to make Safe Routes a
>> reality; residents, the Menlo Park City School District and the City of
>> Menlo Park:
>> 1.
>> Residents - I have already mentioned that my hope is that residents
>> can work together to find common ground.
>> 2.
>> Menlo Park City School District - Looking at the 5 S’s of Safe Routes
>> (Education, Encouragement, Evaluation, Enforcement and Engineering), it
>> will be important for Laurel and the MPCSD to do everything they can with
>> Education and Encouragement.
>> 1.
>> Education - In addition to Bike Rodeos that take place in the 4th
>> Grade, I would recommend that if Laurel indeed wants kids to bike to school
>> (and given that they are installing bike racks at Upper Laurel to
>> accommodate 150 bikes, that can be safely assumed), then they should
>> prioritize bicycle education among students, starting at the beginning of
>> 3rd grade. Parents also should be reminded about bike safety and that bikes
>> are vehicles and need to follow the rules of the road (stop at stop signs,
>> signal, when to “share” the road, etc.). I would also suggest that Laurel
>> hire an organization like KidPower (https://www.kidpower.org/) to
>> teach students and/or parents about Stranger Safety and how to help parents
>> identify when their child is ready to travel to school alone or with a
>> friend.
>> 2.
>> Encouragement - Laurel needs to encourage families to walk, bike,
>> take the bus and carpool. It is suggested that leaders at Laurel reach out
>> to GAIS (the former occupants of the O’Connor site) to learn best practices
>> on traffic flow and carpool encouragement. From everything I’ve heard, they
>> were great neighbors. Laurel can also organize biking and walking school
>> buses for families.
>> In addition to education and encouragement, there are two other issues
>> that the Menlo Park City School District must address; crossing guards and
>> busing:
>> -
>> Laurel is considering having up to 2 crossing guards. One at
>> Elliott/O’Connor and one at the school entrance. While the school district
>> supports the expansion of City wide efforts to place crossing guards at
>> critical intersections, after speaking with staff Transportation
>> Department, it has become clear that the City doesn’t provide crossing
>> guards for any of the 4 public school districts that fall within its
>> jurisdiction. It is unacceptable that the school district can point to the
>> City, and the City can point to the school district, and in the meantime,
>> kids are left to cross Willow Road on their own. Since the Menlo Park City
>> School District already has a crossing guard program set up, it is clear
>> that the school district must step up to provide additional crossing guards
>> at this time.
>> -
>> When the Menlo Park City School District decided to have “One Laurel”
>> that was comprised of a K-2 at one campus (Lower Laurel) and a 3-5 at
>> another campus (Upper Laurel), assurances were made that there would be
>> connectivity between the two campuses to ease families’ burdens of having
>> kids at different campuses. Sadly, due to a lack of resources, it doesn’t
>> appear that this original promise is being kept. In some situations,
>> families are being told that at best, they will need to wait one hour for
>> children to be bused between the two campuses. On Thursdays, there will be
>> no busing available for kids needing to travel from Upper Laurel to Lower
>> Laurel to meet up with siblings. The Menlo Park City School District must
>> dedicate more resources towards busing, especially given the limited number
>> of parking spots available to parents at Upper Laurel (approximately 20)
>> and the lack of Safe Routes planning.
>> I plan to present these concerns at the next Menlo Park City School
>> District School School Board meeting, and I urge my fellow residents and
>> the City Council to join me in pushing the School Board for these measures.
>> If the District can’t fund these items, then the MPAEF and/or Laurel PTO
>> needs to get involved.
>> 1.
>> The City of Menlo Park - Last but not least is what the City Council
>> can do about Safe Routes. Again, looking at the 5 E’s of Safe Routes, the
>> City must own Evaluation, Enforcement and Engineering.
>> 1.
>> Evaluation - As stated at the beginning, the City Council must
>> direct City Staff to study Safe Routes to Laurel as soon as possible.
>> 2.
>> Enforcement - The Menlo Park Police Department must do everything
>> they can to enforce existing speed limits (25 mph) and traffic laws. It is
>> reported that many cars and bikes run through stop signs and this is a huge
>> safety issue for not only kids on bikes but everyone traveling through our
>> neighborhoods. Another idea to slow down traffic would be to get neighbors
>> and Laurel parents to put “PACE Car” magnets on their cars and to commit to
>> driving the speed limit. It’s a way for residents, school families and law
>> enforcement to work together.
>> 3.
>> Engineering
>> 1.
>> 18 months - Assuming that a Safe Routes study is started right
>> away, it is the hope that engineering enhancements can be implemented in
>> less than 2 years (as stated, this is already later than it should be given
>> that Measure A was passed in 2014). Whether aspects of the REVISED Laurel
>> Connector Bike Plan are ultimately adopted or enhancements that come from
>> the Safe Routes study are implemented, engineering is necessary to truly
>> make biking to Laurel safe for kids. As mentioned, at this point, I will
>> leave it up to transportation professionals to determine which combination
>> of measures should be implemented.
>> 2.
>> Short term - Yesterday (July 22nd), I had the pleasure of
>> meeting with Transportation Manager, Nikki Nagaya and others on her staff,
>> to go over a non-controversial (hopefully!) list of short term enhancements
>> that should be considered right away, before school opens on October 17th
>> if possible. These include things like light-up crosswalks, fixing painting
>> on the ground, striping on Gilbert to narrow the line of sight, and
>> additional signage. In addition, while there is a warrant process in place
>> for new stop signs, I would strongly encourage the City to look into adding
>> a stop sign on Coleman Avenue at Santa Monica as soon as possible. Please
>> don’t wait two years for this.
>> While I realize that I have potentially added a lot to the City’s plate
>> (and I know you have a lot going on), there’s one more thing I’d like you
>> to consider. As City Council members, please come out into our community,
>> talk to neighbors, get neighbors to talk to each other and do what you can
>> to engage residents in any process that takes place. Face to face meetings,
>> rather than posts on NextDoor, are a much more personal and effective way
>> for our community to communicate with each other. Please lead us… you are
>> our elected leaders.
>> To close, thank you for your attention and for your consideration. I am
>> proud to live in Menlo Park and I plan to live here for a very long time.
>> Please help make this community the best it can be.
>> Sincerely,
>> Jen Wolosin
>> 2 Alder Place, MP
Received on Thu Aug 25 2016 - 14:19:09 PDT

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