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Hamburg officials seeking grant to help with Middle School traffic issues

Both village and school district officials within Hamburg are hoping to obtain a 2013-14 federal grant that would provide students with a safer venue of travel to and around Hamburg schools, most notably the Hamburg Middle School.

Discussion related to the Safe Routes To School program took place during Tuesday’s (Dec. 11) Hamburg Central School Board meeting.

Peter Danforth, who serves as the chairman of the Village of Hamburg Traffic Safety Committee, stated during public comment session that district officials should look into pursuing SRTS grant money, reimbursed funds given annually since the program’s establishment in 2005 through the New York State Department of Transportation to schools districts, in providing discernible and recognizable means of traffic and walking safety within Hamburg schools. Particularly lacking at the current time, Danforth said, are available sidewalks, crosswalks and designated striping at Hamburg Middle.

The Traffic Safety chairman added that such information was gotten from a recent conversation he had with a town resident who lives in very close proximity to Hamburg Middle and who expressed concern with his children’s ability to walk to school in a safe manner, given the lack of student/traffic guidelines at the site.

“We’re asking the school board to reach out to the district (residents) and get ideas to research for Safe Routes to School,” said Danforth, who added that members of the Hamburg Village Board had given their unofficial approval of such a program taking place in the village. It was further added that although it is not known who in particular would fund installation of SRTS parameters, such project costs would be reimbursed by state monies.

Superintendent of Schools Steven A. Achramovitch replied that the district’s transportation committee, comprised of both school board and community members, was scheduled to meet in January with the village’s Traffic Safety Committee regarding further action related to SRTS. It was added that SRTS grants are typically due for application by August, to be processed for the following school year.

Danforth stated that interest in SRTS was formulated in Hamburg as far back as a year ago. SRTS, he said, generally focuses on safety issues taking place within a two-mile radius of the school, in offering students a safe, healthy alternative in walking or bicycling to school in place of taking the bus. Other program parameters include reducing local vehicle traffic around the school, as well as curbing air pollution caused by vehicles’ activity on the roads.

The Traffic Safety chairman noted a recent incident in which a student in the Eden Central School District had been struck by a vehicle while walking through a designated crosswalk. Danforth reminded those in attendance Tuesday that an unfortunate occurrence such as this should not happen in any location, much less a school facility.

In other meeting action, Achramovitch briefly discussed academic staffing in relation to the district’s budget planning process. It was stated at the board’s Dec. 4 budget workshop that a projected budget gap of more than $4.7 million is facing Hamburg, with a district focus on initiating Level 3 modifications, which include implementing reductions driven by expenditure increases and revenue limitations, not in program cuts. It was noted that a notable reduction of district staffing has already occurred since 2008-09, including the areas of art, with a 29 percent downsizing, from 14 to 10; business at 40 percent, from five to three; English at 11 percent, from 19 to 17; guidance at 17 percent, from 12 to 10; health at 33 percent, from eight to 5.4; FACS at 55 percent, from 4 to 1.8; Languages Other Than English at 20 percent, from 15 to 12; and mathematics at 19 percent, from 21 to 17.

It was also noted by board President Dr. Joan G. Calkins that the graduation rate at Hamburg High School has risen from 87 percent in 2008-09 to 94 percent in 2011-12.

Other meeting items Tuesday included the board approving:

• The reinstatement of a 10-month clerk-typist position in the district, with the move resulting from a settlement agreement.

• The district sale of two properties- one located in a 14-acre parcel on Pleasant Avenue and the other a 24-acre, largely-wooded area within the Town of Boston, in a return revenue amount not to exceed $4,750. It was stated that the properties were not being used by the school district at the current time and could feasibly be utilized as revenue sources for the 2013-14 academic year.

The next meeting of the Hamburg Central School Board will take place at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, January 8 in the Hamburg Middle School cafeteria.


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