Blue Zones Project Community Program Manager Rachael Melot shared a Safe Routes to School (SRTS) Master Plan to commissioners this week in an effort to gain adoption of the document to benefit the community.

Blue Zones Project Community Program Manager Rachael Melot shared a Safe Routes to School (SRTS) Master Plan to commissioners this week in an effort to gain adoption of the document to benefit the community.

“Shawnee has not been awarded any significant amounts of Safe Routes to School dollars,” she said. “We believe part of that is because we have not had a comprehensive plan around safe routes to schools.”

Melot said the SRTS plan is to enable the group to apply for grants.

To begin creation of the plan, she said, in 2017 a work group was formed, and that team then worked to identify the scope of the master plan and create the document.

Nine schools were chosen as the focus for the plan — six are already involved, with the other three to be added: Shawnee Early Childhood Center; Jefferson; Will Rogers; Sequoyah; Horace Mann; Shawnee Middle School; Shawnee High School; Pleasant Grove; and Grove.

“Three of the elementary schools have been surveyed two consecutive years,” she said. “Another three were picked up this year.”

She said the following year the other three will be added.

As required by the grant process, programs and strategies for the Comprehensive Plan were guided by six areas of focus. The six Es — cornerstones for the master plan — are education, encouragement, engineering, enforcement, evaluation and equity.

She said hiring a team to do the work of creating a plan could cost between $25,000 and $75,000.

Instead, Melot said most of the work has been done by the local team, modeling after another community's plan that had been accepted for Federal funding.

According to the plan document, certain challenges were discovered while assessing the area. They include:

lack of sidewalks; lack of consistency around the level of physical activity and physical education that is provided at each grade level; parent engagement at the school-building level; and poverty.

Commissioners unanimously voted in favor of adopting the SRTS Master plan.

SRTS

SRTS is a national movement that was established in 2005 by the Federal Highway Administration to empower communities to make walking and biking to school a safe, fun and routine activity for children and families.