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U-CF School Board to vote on sharing cost of crosswalks in front of Unionville schools

09/12/2017 12:09PM ● Published by J. Chambless

By John Chambless
Staff Writer

A proposed partnership between the Unionville-Chadds Ford School District and East Marlborough Township to install crosswalks and traffic-slowing improvements on Route 82 was discussed at the school board's Sept. 11 meeting.

Rick Hostetler, the supervisor of buildings and grounds, led the discussion of the issue, which will be voted on next week. “The township is asking us to partner with them in the design portion of about $1 million worth of improvements on Route 82 to improve the safety of everyone who crosses the street to the schools,” he said.

The design phase is budgeted at $180,000. The township is asking the school district to split that cost, which will then lead to a grant that will cover the actual construction, estimated to total $900,000.

“The township also asked the Longwood Foundation for $60,000, which would create a three-way split,” Hostetler said. “The grant application requires they know if all funding is in place for the design before they act on the grant. We'd ask the board to approve a maximum of $90,000 for the design phase. This would be our all-in cost. If this all goes forward, we will know about the grant early in 2018. Work probably wouldn't start until 2020.”

The stretch of Route 82 in front of the schools is, at one point, five lanes wide, and traffic routinely exceeds the speed limit, which is 45 miles per hour when school is not in session.

“The primary design is to create a traffic-calming effect,” Hostetler said of the project. “We will be involved in the design process. The township will also be working with PennDOT to lower the speed limit in front of the high school and middle school. My personal opinion is that this is very much needed.”

A student was struck by a car and killed at the site 19 years ago.

“The bigger issue is after-school sports activities, or times when community members are coming and going,” said district superintendent John Sanville. “On weekends, our facilities are being used, and there's parking in the neighborhoods across the street and a lot of people crossing the road. The township has come to us with a potential solution. The road is East Marlborough Township's responsibility, but it's our community members who are walking across the street. They are asking for our help here. I think providing the $90,000 is the right thing to do, to work with the township to get a safer crosswalk.”

Board president Victor Dupuis added, “I think it's tragic that we have a 45-miles-per-hour speed limit in front of our schools. This may be the only way to get that speed limit reduced.”

Hosteler also presented a long list of maintenance and repair projects completed this summer while schools were not in session. “I'm not responsible for any of this. We have a maintenance crew in this district that is second to none,” Hostetler said. “I want to thank them and share this with the board. We have the ability to take on a lot of work that most school districts would be paying outside contractors to do, or they would not be getting the jobs completed. This summer was absolutely crazy. Due to several factors, we operated six to seven people short on our full-time staff. We had 22 positions open for summer help, but were only able to fill 17 of those. In spite of that, we got everything done. The initial budget was $3.3 million. We came in at $2.2 million, so that's about $33,000 under budget. All in all, it was a very successful summer.”

Board member Carolyn Daniels reported on a presentation about the district's sleep study and its change to a later school start time to increase student alertness. “The data supported what we saw in previous presentations,” she said. “Our students are tired – particularly in grades 4 to 11.”

Bus schedules were altered this fall, Daniels said. “The earliest pickup went from 6:19 a.m. to 6:52 a.m. The number of our students who had been picked up before 7 a.m. was 1,598 last year. Now, it's 59. I'm sure that our students are appreciating the extra sleep,” Daniels said.

Assistant superintendent John Nolen added, “We will be doing a survey in May to get data to compare to last year. We look forward to seeing if there are positive effects from our later school start times.”

For updates on district events and issues, visit www.ucfsd.org.

To contact Staff Writer John Chambless, email jchambless@chestercounty.com.

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