No Walking allowed to the George McGovern School

In one of the strangest decisions that I have seen the SF School District make, they seem to be sending out ‘walking’ police if kids are ‘trying’ to walk home from the McGovern school. Maybe they are afraid they will get ran over by those pesky rabbits and deer we have roaming on the outskirts of town;

The end of the school day is carefully orchestrated at George McGovern Middle School.

About 12 buses pull up alongside the school, and teachers help make sure each of the about 740 kids gets on one of them. While they do that, they also keep an eye out for students trying to walk home — which isn’t allowed at the new middle school in the northwestern corner of Sioux Falls.

Still, some slip through during the rush of pickup, and when they do, officials call their parents.

Oh My! Kids are walking and getting exercise! I thought we needed to build an indoor pool because kids don’t get enough exercise? Hope they remember to build sidewalks by the new indoor pool.

This has to be one of the dumbest things I have heard the school district do. Of course, they are a little nervous considering no one thought of building sidewalks to the new school. So who would be liable if one of these gung-ho fitness freaks decides to walk home and gets hit by a car? Well that’s a very good question McFly;

But more than the debate about walking to school is the argument about who is responsible for what when the city annexes an area such as McGovern — sometimes called a flagpole annexation. The new territory, 40 acres for the school, is connected only by a thin strip of land.

Another genius move by our planning department (they are often making genius moves, like trying to allow a 85,000 square foot super-center retailer build on a parcel of land that will have ONLY ONE access point).

Minnehaha County commissioners worry the annexation took away county money in the form of building permits. The city argues they invested millions in improving infrastructure in the area. Meanwhile, the school must wait to see about sidewalks in the area.

District and Minnehaha County officials are not responsible for putting in sidewalks — that’s the city’s job, they say. And as for the strip of Maple that falls under the city’s purview, it ends at the school. City officials say they have no immediate plans to make the road more pedestrian-friendly.

Of course, this could all be alleviated easily if the District and the City ponied up and built a simple asphalt trail (similiar to the bike trail, offset from the main road about 5-10 feet). It could easily be a walking or bike bath that would be relatively inexpensive, and our public works department has the equipment to install it. Heck, the District’s policies even require it. But who follows rules these days? That’s just silly talk.

District policy asks officials to “provide safe walking routes to school throughout the district” and “accommodate growth and change” when determining a school’s attendance boundaries.

No plans have been made for a sidewalk along Maple or that section of Marion, City Planner Jeff Schmitt said.

“We’ll build it as it gets built up out there,” Schmitt said.

Oh, but we had to make sure we plowed ahead with the flagpole annexation so we could get that building permit money and skirt rules (mostly to skirt rules), because if the city is good at one thing in the planning department, it is having a separate set of rules for each development, as Jeff ‘Malt’ Schmitt has said before, planning and zoning in Sioux Falls is ‘fluid’ (in the alcohol sense of course) and we just don’t see the need of flowing money into a poorer neighborhood to build sidewalks for the kids. Heck, people would start thinking we are making these decisions when they are drunk.

Then comes the pesky hippies and their talk about ‘exercise’ and ‘walking’;

McGovern students might benefit from their new building, but sidewalks ensure safety, promote healthy activity and give them a face-to-face interaction with the community, Orcutt said.

“They have a shoulder and then they have ditch,” Orcutt said. “With George McGovern, it’s addressed one issue, but it needs to address another one.”

Oh no, don’t start using logic with the city and school district, that will confuse the f’ck out of them. Their only logic is ‘if someone can make money from building sidewalks out there, then we will approve it.’ This isn’t about whether kids are safe or healthy, this was about city greed, plain and simple.

Studies show a correlation between students walking to school and faring well in class, said Lenore Skenazy, author of the book “Free Range Kids” and a blog by the same name.

Did the study include how much money is being made for the city when these kids walk to school?

Parsley, 39, said he wants to push for a “complete streets policy,” which would require all new buildings be made accessible to walkers and bikers.

“I would love to keep banging the gong for McGovern, but what it really boils down to is changing the policy for the entire city,” Parsley said.

Another logical fellar chimes in, as I have said, this wasn’t about a Walmart coming in, it was about a school, and there is NO opportunity for the city to make money from building sidewalks. Though I do totally agree with your idea, even if the city implemented it, they may not always follow it, it goes back to them picking and choosing what rules they want to follow, and if they have been drinking that day.

Complaints from community members caught the attention of at least one Minnehaha County official, even though the county is not responsible for sidewalks.

Commissioner Jeff Barth brought the matter up at an Aug. 26 meeting, deflecting blame from some comments he saw online.

Actually he said comments he saw on ‘South DaCola’ but gawd forbid the Argus gives me any promotion for starting a community conversation about it (actually, KDLT did the original story, or was it KSFY, I get them confused). Immediately after I watched the meeting, I called Commissioner Barth and we discussed what can be done, and that is when Barth mentioned the asphalt path. Jeff also had this to say about the city in the meeting;

 “Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me,” Barth said. “We’ll just have to keep an eye on their activities better.”

Yes, after watching the city council meetings for over 10 years, I have learned you have to watch them like a hawk, they are constantly trying to slip things by, the EC siding is a great example of them trying to skirt transparency and informing the public, and they pulled it with the sidewalk issue.

Meanwhile, the district was able to pay the city $50,000 for a building permit, instead of paying the county’s rate of 1 percent of the project cost, Barth said. The 177,000-square-foot middle school cost about $20 million.

“That befuddles me,” Schmitt said. “The school district might have a concern about the value of a building permit. We don’t.”

The district might have saved on permit costs, but the city spent more preparing the rural site for the new school, Schmitt said. Workers installed water mains, street lights, sewers and storm drainage. They also repaved Maple, adding a turn lane, all for a combined cost of about $1.2 million.

And after doing all of that infrastructure improvements it didn’t occur to anyone in the Planning Department to build either a sidewalk or a walking path to the school? As even Scooby Doo would say after the first week of school started, ‘What Whoa Waggy.”

And the planning department’s mental (midget) counterparts have also chimed in with a solution (that makes no sense);

“So what the school district has done is we have made a commitment to bus 100 percent of the students to school,” Alberty said.

Which is costing them an extra $29,000 a year, which would pay for a lot of asphalt.

So what is the city, the county and the district’s solution to the current problem?

District officials are counting on similar growth near McGovern, which they say will bring sidewalks and conditions safe enough for students to bike or walk to school.

Give it time. Maybe the sidewalks will grow themselves. I think Menard’s has some sidewalk seeds on sale right now. Now that’s an education system at it’s finest finding a solution. But we must forgive them, their job is really to teach NOT TO learn (from their mistakes).



10 comments ↓

#1 rufusx on 09.07.14 at 4:50 pm

Well, to get an idea of how long it will take for growth to spur sidewalk installation – take a look at E. 10th. From Bahnson Ave. east (most of which has been developed for DECADES now) they have been busy finally installing sidewalks THIS YEAR.

#2 rufusx on 09.07.14 at 5:00 pm

On the other hand – of you think getting safe sidewalks to walk to school on is tough in the big city – you should take a crack at getting the small town folk to do this. Small town mentality says it’s normal and natural for kids to walk to school – or for that matter; everywhere – on the streets. Go play in traffic.

#3 JeniW on 09.07.14 at 5:17 pm

Just as it takes accidents with injuries or deaths to put up a signal light or other signage, it is unfortunately (and needlessly so,)it will need to be for a child to be injured or killed before a sidewalk or temporary walking path will be put into place.

#4 LJL on 09.07.14 at 6:39 pm

Asphalt is just as expensive as concrete and surface preparation is about the same. No reason to install a bike path rather than sidewalks.

Ironic how a school named after a moron has a moron rule.

#5 Ol'Bubbleguts on 09.08.14 at 6:18 am

Off topic but I have come into contact with
someone involved in construction of MMM esteemed Sanford Falls EC.
Seems MMM crowning jewel of debt rollovers
BLINDS airline pilots in the sky.
Guess you guys are going to have to put up with crashing jets until the Patina wears off.

In Art and Labor and ACARS,..
OBG

#6 McGovern Neighbor on 09.08.14 at 7:39 am

If a rural path is so hard to accomplish they should go down to Harrisburg and see the path they put in so the kids can safely attend the High School.

Once again Sioux Falls has found a way to grow another loophole to run a school bus through.

#7 l3wis on 09.08.14 at 8:26 am

OlBubblebutt, That surprises me, seeing that you can only get the shit so shiny when you polish a turd.

MN – Sioux Falls is too good to be borrowing ideas from Harrisburg, we are a boom town for Godsakes!

#8 Karma on 09.08.14 at 10:06 am

As I have said before, if these entities would actually communicate and at times like this, work together for the better of these young people, this conversation would have taken place 3-4 years ago and would be a non-issue. Unfortunately – the head people at the helm of the city and the school district have no concept of how to do that.

#9 anominous on 09.08.14 at 3:25 pm

“Area 51” Junior High School

#10 Enough of shape places and legacy of MMM on 09.08.14 at 4:04 pm

Jeni. During the walmart bs
We tried to tell planning to help out and keep our children safe since outrageous traffic will exist all along 85th and locations of three Harrisburg schools all we got was tell your kids to be street wise city won’t do it. So now they changed their tune for sf district and hell with Harrisburg kids. There may be sidewalks adjacent to 35mph but no signals of any type Nice. Thanks mmm and Jeff Schmitt for no infrastructure. Even a traffic report by wm revealed many safety and failing on roads and intersections all around the area of 85th and minn. But our city goofs voted for it anyway.