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D161 reviewing traffic flow issues, particularly with Western Avenue backups

A compliment about one traffic-related issue led to questions about others for Flossmoor School District 161. Board Member David Linnear commended administrators during a school board meeting held Monday, Oct. 25, on their handling of a crosswalk situation at Heather Hill Elementary School. But he asked what was being done to examine whether traffic flow issues exist at other schools because of rerouting related to COVID-19 protocols, as well as what can be done to address those concerns.

A compliment about one traffic-related issue led to questions about others for Flossmoor School District 161.

Board Member David Linnear commended administrators during a school board meeting held Monday, Oct. 25, on their handling of a crosswalk situation at Heather Hill Elementary School. But he asked what was being done to examine whether traffic flow issues exist at other schools because of rerouting related to COVID-19 protocols, as well as what can be done to address those concerns.

“That will certainly be an issue that comes up in the long-range planning process,” Superintendent Dana Smith said. “There may be some work we can do there.”

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Smith said Wold Architects came out to the district roughly a month ago to do a traffic study related to dropoff and dismissal, focusing on Western Avenue Elementary School. There, both exits have a half a block of space before they back up onto Western Avenue, which Smith called “problematic” for traffic flow.

“I feel great about kids getting to their cars safely,” Smith said. “I feel less great about cars exiting the parking lots safely, primarily at Western Avenue.”

Smith noted Flossmoor Police Chief Tod Kamleiter has been “awesome” about providing support to District 161 in regard to the traffic issues. The department provides a community service officer to help keep traffic flowing, Smith said.

Parent volunteers have been returning to buildings ‘slowly’
Vaccinated parent volunteers are being welcomed back into Flossmoor School District 161 buildings this fall after previously being kept out amid ongoing COVID-19 mitigation efforts.

Smith said the return has been taking place “slowly” but should be going “with a full head of steam” again starting Monday, Nov. 1.

Board Secretary Christina Vlietstra asked whether or not parents who are unable to be vaccinated or have exemptions for the vaccine are also being welcomed back into the buildings.

Smith said “not at this time,” but he expects more discussion on that matter in November, with a recommendation to the board at that time on how to do it safely while maintaining privacy.

Snow removal, landscaping bids presented to school board
Costs are likely going up for snow removal across District 161 properties.

Scott Stachacz, director of buildings and grounds for District 161, presented both snow removal and landscaping bid results to the school board for discussion only at the Oct. 25 meeting.

“They’re up,” Stachacz said of the snow bids, noting costs have almost doubled because of the rates for manpower and salt.

Desiderio Landscaping was the lower of two bidders for snow removal with a total cost of $230,400 expected for the season, according to estimates based on removal needs from the 2020-2021 school year. Based on those estimates, the bid came in more than $60,000 lower than the competitor, with a big difference being salting costs.

Integrity Landscaping Inc. was the lower of two bidders for landscaping, with that contract expected to cost the district $175,100, if accepted. The contract would be for one year, with options for two rollover years. The bid is nearly $20,000 lower than the competition.

Other Business

  • The school board voted unanimously to deny a request for a general leave of absence for a teacher. The teacher is on FMLA until Nov. 4 but has been unable to find child care, according to a report from Eric Melnyczenko, the district’s director of human resources. Generally, teachers are expected to return after FMLA. The cost to the district of a general leave would have been $230.42 daily for a long-term guest teacher.
  • The school board voted unanimously to approve its consent agenda, which included a contract with Academic Coach LLC to provide five hours per week of instruction to homebound students at a rate of $40 per hour and $5 per day to cover travel costs. The board first discussed the matter on Oct. 12.

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