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Tournament Hills Parking Project...Just Get It Done!

It seems there is no price too high for the district’s new office building but the safety around our schools needs cost micro-managing.

The school board held a workshop before this week's board meeting regarding the Tournament Hills parking project. They were presented more options by the architect for the design and it appears the board is leaning towards a new option which lowers the project’s construction cost to about $300k. The district’s architect, for an additional cost, will be reengineer the plans and bring them back to the next board meeting. Then the district will submit the plans to the state for their DSA approval, more additional fees.

So the latest update is… still no project has final approval from the board and construction will not be starting anytime soon.

Some other interesting notes…

The new proposed plan will use an existing entrance and the new 60+ staff only parking spaces will require teachers driving through a gate to the new spaces. This will take them across an existing popular pedestrian access.

But they have a plan…

Since teachers are already required to show up by their contract negotiated time of 7:20, this is when the gate will be closed and pedestrians, our kids, will not have to worry about the teacher traffic after 7:20. So, students begin arriving at the school at 7:00; for 20 minutes the gate will be open while teachers arrive and closed at 7:20;  then school starts at 7:30. Am I the only one who sees a problem here?


Board member Wayne Hackney pointed to one large safety issue concern - parents parking across the street from the school and then crossing the busy street - there are no crosswalks available. None of the new proposals, or previous proposals for that matter, addresses this safety issue or any of the congested traffic patterns. Additional spaces will improve the parking situation around the school throughout the day but most parents aren’t interested in parking when they are picking up or dropping off. Parents only park across the street to avoid running the gauntlet through the parking lots.

Construction costs vs. total costs…

None of the new plans or the previous plans address the traffic patterns or the issue of families crossing the street but, this new plan saves the district $40k in construction cost. However, increases in fees for redesign and re-approval from the state, means the total cost savings will be less than $40k. Too often we focus on construction costs when we should be watching total cost. For example, most people don’t know the true cost of the new sports complex. All of us, me included, have been focused on the $15 million figure; this is the construction cost. Measure Z reports I found on the district’s website puts the total cost at almost $20 million. If the construction cost of the new district office is around $12 million, this would put total cost for the Taj Mahal around $15 million. Since the district avoids transparency when it comes to the new office building, these are just my estimates.

I wonder…

How much we could have saved on the construction of the new district office if our board was as concerned with managing those costs as they are when it comes to the Tournament Hills  parking lot. Again we heard from some board members suggesting the traffic safety issues around our schools are primarily the fault of parents not following the proper procedures and they suggested holding workshops for parents. Will every parent attend? Probably not. How about grandparents and other family members who only occasionally pick up kids? Not likely.

In my opinion…

Parents needed to be involved during the planning stages of a project that is so important to the safety of our kids, truly involved not just informed. Any plan approved should address the traffic patterns and all the safety issues, especially ones that are clearly identifiable by board members. Any plan should be made idiot proof, one path possible. This means parents would have no reason to even consider taking any direction or action except for the safest route. It seems there is no price too high for the district’s new office building but the safety around our schools needs cost micro-managing.

It’s time for a change. Just get it done!

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Carla October 13, 2012 at 04:44 AM
Glad someone is watching out for our kids. Thank you Mr. White.
BT October 14, 2012 at 05:09 AM
I am glad you have found somewhere else to campaign. Bringing up the district office and athletic complex, a little much. Have you not been aware our district office is about the size of the restrooms in most school districts. Our new district office will be able to house almost all of the different departments of our district so we no longer have 5 differents sites spread through out the city. I am sure that if you get elected, that you wont have a problem sitting in the new board room either. Obviously the parking problem over at Tournament HIlls is a big issue. But rather than criticize every step, offer a real solution. What should they do? They are land locked, so what should be the plan? I would be more interested in specifics, then simply siding with parents and politicing for votes.And for the people that missed it, if you dont follow the specific plans over there now, you are idiots supposedly.
Jack Smith October 14, 2012 at 04:50 PM
Here's a plan for the Tournament Hills elementary school 'parent drop-off / pick-up' problem. The area is not land-locked, there is plenty of acreage directly across the street from the school entrance. Purchase one or two acres. Build a 4-lane drive-thru through it. Designate a crosswalk manned by crossing guard across Champions Dr. Man the drive-thru with volunteers. Parents drop kids off in the drive-thru and volunteers chaperon them to the front door. All can be easily financed with measure Z funds.
KTRnHBR October 15, 2012 at 03:57 AM
"Have you not been aware our district office is about the size of the restrooms in most school districts." I am new to this site and am trying to more acquainted with local politics so that I can make an informed decision this election. The above comment sure smells like something I would expect from someone who is "entrenched" in the status quo. I could care less how our district offices measure up to other school districts. What I care about is that we are effectively manaing OUR district and correctly appropriating OUR limited funding so that we do not have to keep asking the parents of this district to keep pitching in. I, for one, am glad that someone has taken the time to shine a light on these behind closed door processes and call for more transparency. As a parent multiple Tournament Hills students, I can attest to the fact that the current parking situation is horrible and that we are putting students and parents at risk by not offering a realistic solution to this problem. Parents who are normally rule abiding citizens are force to come up with "creative" solutions in order to pick up their kids. The fact that this situation was not resolved this summer (how are we going to do construction on this project during the school year?) and still continues to drag on shows the ineptitude of our current administration. In my opinion it is time for a change and Mr White sounds like a great candidate to led the change.


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