If you thought Hall Street was congested every weekday when parents were dropping off their kids at O'Loughlin Elementary School, wait until this school year begins. The most popular drop-off location has been closed.
Since O'Loughlin first opened its doors in 1990, parents have used Thomas More Prep-Marian Junior-Senior High School's Victory Road before and after school. The road, which runs along the north side of the O'Loughlin building, recently was closed because of disrepair. Parents attempting to access it will find barricades blocking their way.
"We just don't have money to go back in and fix it," said Randy Walker, the former parish school board president who signed the letter informing O'Loughlin Principal Nancy Harman of the change.
At Monday's meeting of the USD 489 Board of Education, members were presented various options. They include anything from building a road parallel to Victory Road and curving it behind the school along the playground to connect with 13th Street, paving an area southwest of the O'Loughlin cafeteria for parking and adding access to 13th Street, building an access road to 13th Street with an outlet to 12th Street, to negotiating with TMP-Marian to keep the road open and help with the cost of repairs.
No matter the option taken, staff suggested the work would not be complete in time for the first day of school Aug. 15. As a result, many students would be dropped off and picked up at Hays Middle School and be shuttled back and forth.
The BOE went with the option of building a road connecting with 13th Street and has an extension onto 12th. The board also moved to have talks with TMP about using Victory Road until the new one is complete.
"All of the other options ... people had to enter and leave on Hall Street," said Superintendent Will Roth. "This gives us an access to 12th Street to help take some of the load off. It also directs traffic to 13th Street where there is a (stop) light."
Sounds good. Except wouldn't it be a lot less expensive to fix a road rather than build a new one? The letter from TMP stated the road was closing because of its deterioration and they didn't have a remedy.
Last week, Deputy Superintendent Richard Cain suggested staff was expecting to hear from the private school about somehow sharing costs on the repair job. That call never happened. Equally confounding is that no call was made to TMP, either. It strikes us that would have been an easy discussion to have.
Offering to pay the entire cost of repair wasn't an option offered from staff. As there were no specific estimates with any of their options, it's difficult to assess why paying for resurfacing Victory Road wasn't considered.
We would encourage board President Greg Schwartz and Vice President Darren Schumacher to pursue this solution when they sit down to plea for using Victory Road when school opens. We can't imagine TMP turning down such an offer, unless funding isn't the real issue.
Editorial by Patrick Lowry