School Traffic

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The Problem

School-related traffic congestion and the risks such congestion poses to the safety of the students, teachers, parents, and residents, in and around schools is a significant problem in this community. The most obvious cause of traffic congestion around schools is vehicles, and the biggest source of those vehicles is simply the parents’ dropping off and picking up their children from school. In the United States, roughly three-quarters of school-aged children are taken to school by car.  As described below, an increase in children taken to school by car is just one contributing factor to the problem. Other factors include changes In School population, new school construction causing confusion or issues with residents that did not have any issues previously, and traffic signs and signals surrounding a school.

Traffic congestion alone causes inconvenience to drivers, leads to lost time from the job, and can contribute to “road rage.” In addition to affecting parent drivers and other commuters, school traffic congestion is a source of problems for students, school staff, residents in and around schools, and local police charged with enforcing traffic laws and responding to problems raised by residents and schools. More importantly, congestion can be a source of traffic crashes and child pedestrian injuries and deaths. Child pedestrian injuries due to traffic are more likely to occur in settings with high traffic volume and on-street parking, with children’s often emerging “masked” from behind parked cars. This is an issue in Schiller Park at all of the local schools.

Factors Contributing to Traffic Congestion Around Schools

While many factors contribute to the problem of school traffic congestion, the single greatest explanation for recent school traffic congestion is actually two fold, the growth of the school-aged population over a relatively short time, combined with the redesign of the drop-off and pick-up system at Kennedy School. Both factors have led to the issues being complained about around that School, and rendering original school drop-off and pick-up schemes (including guidelines for when and where parents may drop off, pick up, and park), street layouts, and traffic control measures ineffective in controlling congestion. I feel I can safely add that in my own experiences the conditions surrounding the Drop-off, and pick-up at Kennedy School is significantly better then it was at the start of this school year, and in my opinion even better then it was when the school used its original traffic pattern.

In general when asked, parents who choose to take their children by car cite distance, traffic hazards, time constraints, and bad weather as the most common reasons for selecting this transportation mode. Other input has suggested that both road safety and “stranger danger” are the key explanations for why parents are increasingly taking their children to school by car. One can view such threats to child safety as both a cause and a symptom of school congestion. On the one hand, parental concerns about traffic hazards could lead more parents to drive their children to school, thereby increasing congestion. On the other hand, traffic congestion could lead to more child pedestrian accidents, with backed up cars’ blocking the views of small children crossing the street to enter school.

Understanding Your Local Problem

The discussion above is only a generalized description of our school traffic congestion. You should use these basic facts to help develop a more specific understanding of your local problem. Analyzing the local problem carefully will help you design a more effective response, and help to open our minds to who is ultimately responsible for these issues, and who has gone above and beyond in their effort to assist in dealing with these issues.

Stakeholders

The following groups have an interest in the school traffic-congestion problem and should be considered for the contribution they might make to gathering information about the problem and responding to it.

Police

This was written more for the police, and the village, not only because they are the biggest stakeholders in solving these traffic congestion problems, but because they are often one of the first to be called when traffic congestion develops around our schools. The Police are more likely to be contacted only after tensions have developed among residents, school staff, and parents over who is responsible for the congestion. Police therefore are in a unique position to serve as mediator between these groups, helping them to seek common ground in developing and implementing effective solutions and ultimately making their jobs easier by reducing the number of calls for service generated by congestion, and traffic safety issues that often accompany it.

Parents

When it comes to both understanding the underlying source of the congestion problem and developing responses to it, parents may be the single most important stakeholder you identify. This is because parents’ decisions to drive their children to school, their concern for their children’s safety, and their regard for existing traffic rules can tremendously affect the problem. With the general courtesy and respect this portion of the issue seems to be very much under control.

Students

While research indicates that most school traffic problems occur around elementary and middle schools, Student input in these lower-grade schools is equally important, and can become critical if a response strategy includes encouraging children to walk or bike to school.

School Administrators and Teachers

School staff often experience the aggravation of school traffic congestion in equal measure to parents. Some staff, such as the principal and school administrators, bear the brunt of complaints by parents and local residents. Given that most congestion occurs in and around school property, the child safety concerns associated with traffic congestion become the school’s responsibility, as well. These are addressed regularly and seem to be of the highest priority to School District 81. No days have gone by that one or all of the administrators of Kennedy School are not assisting with the drop-off and pick-up process, and an army of teachers and staff at all points of the process.

Local Residents

Residents living near schools with congestion problems are very much affected by the problem, and may also be contributing to it In their own way. Imagine being late for work and pulling out of your driveway, only to realize that school traffic is at its peak and it will take another 10 minutes just to travel a tenth of a mile. Residents may become so frustrated by repeated complaints to the school or local police with no visible sign of resolution in sight, that they deliberately ignore signs, speed limits, or pedestrian traffic, further contributing to the congestion problem, and reduced safety.

Responses With Limited Effectiveness

Enhancing the enforcement of existing traffic laws. As with similar, more “reactive” police measures, such as increased patrols, enhanced enforcement of existing traffic laws is likely to have a positive but short-term impact on the problem if not maintained consistently. As soon as traffic enforcement reverts back to preintervention levels, congestion is likely to increase again. However, if patrols are assigned strategically to increase presence during peak arrival and departure periods, they may serve as a very useful and effective complement to other problem-solving measures.

Who’s responsibility is it to remedy this issue?

The answer Is simple to me. The general responsibility falls on all of us, in my opinion some of the responsible parties are already pulling their weight, but the rest of us need to step up.  I have sat and watched at all three of the public Schools since the beginning of the year, and the School District personnel are doing an outstanding job, with the District regularly implementing new technologies and procedures since the begging of the year. The parents actively participating in the process are also for the most part relatively appropriate and respectful during this process with the exception of a small few. They in reality have little choice in the matter, and have taken the changes in stride. The remaining stakeholders need to step up, the resididents around the Schools need to realize that everything that can be done by the Schools is being done, and constantly being improved by the Schools themselves. The remainder of this issue again in my opinion falls on the village, and possibly the police department.

Even though it is my feeling that the issues that most are complaining about are not actually issues at all, but simply a new inconvenience to their daily routine caused by the rerouted lines they are still complaints that need to be addressed, and still remains the normal speeders we see in Schiller Park, and the new ones created by the congestion itself who put our children and residents at risk, specifically at Kennedy School, but in reality all of Schiller Park

There is no consistent police presence at any of the schools during drop-off and pick-up, and it is putting everyone at risk daily. If we all stop blaming the people who are already doing all they can, and direct our energy and issues to those who still have much they can do maybe we will see some meaningful change.

Barbara Piltaver – Village President / Mayor
Phone: 847-671-8502          mayor@villageofschillerpark.com

Thomas Fragakis – Chief of Police
Phone: 847-678-4794         Tfragakis@schillerparkil.us

 

 

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Groundbreaking Ceremony

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I was out of town during the Kennedy Groundbreaking Ceremony, so I couldn’t lurk in the back to see all of the fun for myself, but I wanted to take a moment to share some links that have most likely been shared more then a few times already.

Schiller Park School District 81’s Super Superintendent blogged about it, and you can find the article herehttps://d81superintendent.com is always a fantastic place to go and read about all the wonderful things that are going on in School district 81.

The Architectural firm hired by School District 81 shared the photos they took at the event on an internet page for all of us to enjoy. You can find those images here

As usual you can stay up to date with all the information relating to the Kennedy School Expansion Project here, or by attending your next School District of Schiller Park School Board meeting. The next meeting is May 25th at Lincoln Middle School, 9750 Soreng Avenue @ 7:00 PM.

 

Guidelines for Choosing an Attorney

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Guidelines for Choosing an Attorney for Special Education Representation

If you have a child with a disability, you may find yourself in circumstances in which you require assistance in securing services to meet your child’s educational needs. In such circumstances, you may turn to an attorney for assistance. Below are some basic guidelines to assist you in selecting an attorney who will be helpful to you.

I want to add one very important piece of information before you get to the official State of Illinois list. This is not on the original, and is simply something that I feel many people overlook.

Do an internet search on any perspective attorneys to make sure they will best suit your needs. Some times you may find the person that seems genuinely perfect to help you in you and your child’s situation just may be in a bit of legal trouble, and nothing would hurt your efforts as a parent more then loosing your attorney in the middle of all your hard work because they went to jail.

This original and official list can be found here.

Select an attorney with special education expertise.
Special education is a complex area of the law, and one not generally taught in law school. Attorneys who assist parents in this field should be well-versed on the various federal and state laws and regulations, as well as the current special education cases coming from the courts.

Select an attorney with special education experience.
The practice of special education can involve simple negotiations, mediation, administrative hearings (called “due process hearings”), or court hearings. Attorneys who assist parents in this field should have experience with all of these areas or at least be able to explain the scope of their special education experience.

Ask how the attorney charges for his/her work.
Special education practice can range from public service attorneys who work for free or at low cost to eligible families to those in private practice who charge for their work. Be sure you understand and get in writing a statement of any and all retainers, hourly fees, or flat fees for representation.

Understand your role as parents.
Attorneys can advise you on the status of the law and about expected outcomes of your case based upon an analysis of the facts and the law. However, you remain the ultimate decision maker with regard to your child’s educational planning. You should also get regular updates from the attorney (preferably in writing) as to the status of the case. The attorney should be reasonably available to answer your questions and clarify issues.

Find out if the attorney has support personnel who will be assisting him/her.
Attorneys can be alone in the representation of families (called “solo practice”) or can practice with other attorneys or paraprofessionals. If you are likely to come in contact with or get billed for such other people, you should understand this person’s role in the case. If the attorney is using a paraprofessional as a lay advocate, you should understand how closely the attorney will supervise this paraprofessional.

Understand how long it may take to resolve the matter.
In some cases, attorneys can negotiate speedy resolutions for their clients; in others, it may take months to reach a resolution. Discuss with your attorney the time frame he/she anticipates in resolving your specific concerns. The attorney should be able to describe the various dispute resolution tactics (negotiation, mediation, due process, or state monitoring) that could apply in your particular case and a reasonable time frame for each.

Select an attorney who understands your child.
Each child with a disability is unique and presents unique educational concerns. Make sure you are confident that your attorney understands the underlying disability and how it manifests itself in your child. If a particular type of disability is new to an attorney, he/she should be willing to educate himself/herself in its particulars.

 

Congratulations Schiller Park, You Made a Difference.

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I can not deny how unsurmountable the obstacles felt that had been blocking educational progress in Schiller Park’s Public Schools, and that there has been true progress over the past few years. Not only for the betterment of the children of Schiller Park, but for the entire community.

September 26th 2014 at 3:16 pm two hundred and twenty posts ago we made the first installment of the current blog. With the help of a community that was sick of the destruction we stood up, and spoke out against those who would do our kids harm. The first post was titled “In the beginning there was a comptroller! well almost the beginning” and it set the tone for all that followed. “The ‘Robin Hood of potholes’ or ‘The pothole Vigilante’“, and “Pre-career change job training? Getting ready for the work crew in the big house?” followed shortly after. Some times I look back at these posts, and think of how much simpler this blog was. There was so much to share, and everything was new news to many of us. There had been such a destructive and dark blanket of negativity surrounding everything, that I didn’t have to look very hard to find something new to share.

Back then we were talking about harassment “Is it a pattern of harassment? Someone should contact the authorities!” and  connections between a small few board members, and one family in the community. We talked about how these connections so blatantly produced bad, and biased choices on the part of David Stachura, and Patricia Godziszewski. (Example). We talked about abuse of the staff and one persons past job titles in “The many jobs of McCampbell! Job (Jobs) well done!” There was topics that have carried through to recent posts. Like “Pension fund scoundrel!“,  and more recently “21,000 a month!“.

Yet some things have remained the same. We are still waiting on a resolution to the indictment of our local infamous “Accused” criminal, and some of the McToxics still feel the need to spread bad information.

Through all the negative aspects of the last two years the quality of educators our children have in Schiller Park School District 81 has only grown, and there has been many good changes. A pretty big one is the recent swearing in of two new School Board members that have replaced the cowardly lion David Stachura, and Mr. talkative John Kowalski. The expansion of Kennedy School, and an Ipad initiative both helping to keep the Schools technologically and educationally current. Schiller Park School district 81 has an award winning Superintendent, School Board, and staff that cares about the children and community that they serve. These talented professionals are now free to do their jobs unhindered by bad, self-serving personal agendas, and can focus on educating the children that will make our future great.

Are the McToxics gone? No, but we will continue to fight the good fight, and with the continued contributions of so many of you there is nothing but good times on the horizon for a long time to come.

Congratulations Schiller Park, you made a difference.

 

The Illinois Open Meetings Act

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A short discussion of the rules.  At least as they pertain to Schiller Park School Board meetings. To include scheduled, committee, special, and emergency ones.

The posting of these meetings, the locations, and the time frames required are governed by the Illinois Open Meetings Act.     5 ILCS 120

A guide to the Open Meetings Act can be found here. A good place to start is Section 7 at the bottom of page 33. But feel free to read the entire document.

The School Board of Schiller Park School District 81 policy covering the same topic can be found here. Section 2:200 starting on page 38. I will additionally share a few images for those who do not want to thumb through the original documents.

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If you read through the document you will notice that the local guidelines almost mirror the state level laws governing the posting of meetings and notification to the community of those meetings.

Now as usual please correct me if I am wrong. After reading the Illinois laws governing open meetings, and then reading the Schiller Park School Board’s policy on Meetings and posting of them it looks like School District 81 of Schiller Park has gone one step further then the law requires by also posting the Schedual and agenda of the meetings on their Internet Page linked here.

The School District seems to have taken it even further outside of policy and posted a reminder of this evenings committee meeting on the School’s Facebook Page found here.

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Looks and sounds like transparency to me.

What does that mean to me or anyone else that reads this? Probably not much as I feel very strongly that most people, including those that dont think as highly of the School District are aware of the School District’s compliance with the Illinois Open Meetings Act.  And by most I mean everyone but one person.

I also feel safe in my opinion when I say if there was something amiss with the posting of the meetings and the School District’s compliance with the Open Meetings Act it would have had twelve formal complaints, twenty informal complaints, half a dozen or more coherent Facebook posts, and some sort of lawsuit by now.

So rest easy KKG. This is not a conspiracy.

A Reminder

Just a helpful reminder for those that don’t check the School Districts Internet site regularly. “Others” like to think everything is a conspiracy, but it is not. This information was shared multiple times by the School District of Schiller Park. The School District also can not force people to read what they share.

The original posting can be found here

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Five People

School board members are elected to sit in trust for their diverse communities, and in that capacity are charged with meeting the community’s expectations and aspirations for the public education of their children; and

School board members are entrusted with the guardianship and wise expenditure of scarce tax dollars, and they are responsible for maintaining and preserving the buildings, grounds, and other areas of the school district that the community has put in their trust; and

School board members are responsible for providing leadership that ensures a clear, shared vision of public education for their schools, that sets high standards for the education of all students, and requires the effective and efficient operation of their districts; and

School board members adopt public policy to give voice to that leadership and employ a superintendent to administer board policy, and are also responsible for the regular monitoring of the district’s performance and compliance with state policy; and

School board members selflessly donate countless hours to public service with no compensation; and

Employers are supportive of their employees who serve as school board members, generously lending support and time; employers give their employees the opportunity to better serve the needs of the school districts and community citizens they represent through sometimes tremendous sacrifice to the employer; and

Decisions made by school board members directly impact the quality of life in their communities, placing them at the front line of American democracy.


 

These five residents of Schiller Park, (let me remind everyone that they are also tax payers) have decided to accept a position granted them through the process of an election by the people of Schiller Park for the purpose of being advocates for education and defenders of our tax dollars.

They accepted these positions knowing that they will become targets to more then a few people of this and surrounding communities.

They accepted these positions knowing that they would have to make hard choices based on more information then we can ever see or even comprehend, decisions that would both defend, and improve education at the same time respect the tax payers of our town.

They stood up and swore an oath that very few others would even consider because they believed they can help their community.

But now that they are doing the job that they swore an oath to do and advancing education in Schiller Park ten times farther then in the previous two years they are repeatedly attacked.

Education stagnated in Schiller Park for two years under the leadership of David C Stachura, and Patricia Godziszewski. To their credit they were part of the few people willing to stand and take that oath, they just interpreted it very differently. They chose a different path that negatively affected education in Schiller Park, and at the same time negatively affected Schiller Park itself.

The quality of the School District in any town directly affects the image of the town itself. So does the constant and continuous attacks by those with the wrong information, and in some cases the wrong goals.

Stop for a moment and listen to the complaints. Listen to the accusations, and ask yourself if you are willing to blindly listen or take a small bit of initiative and participation in the betterment of your community and get the facts for yourself. Go to the source and find out for yourself that there is no conspiracy to deceive the community, there is just five people who took an oath working together trying to do the best they can for the community.