Parking study for USD 383 recommends more parking stalls

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A  parking study for Manhattan-Ogden USD 383 was presented to the board of education Wednesday night.

The study was done by the Wantman Group, Inc. (WGI) out of Housont, TX.  The study was conducted to determine if current parking inventory was adequate for future conditions .  Parking Solutions Division Senior Project Manager Nicole Chinea was with her team about a month to check the situation.

Chinea came back to present her findings to the board Wednesday night.  One of the key components of the study was the relocation of the 6th graders from the elementary schools, to the middle schools.  The goals were to take into consideration the reduction of staff members from the elementary schools.

Chinea worked with the City of Manhattan to determine the ratio ordinance, which is one to one.  This was used to estimate how many spots should be added at each campus.  The purpose of the study is to be used as a planning tool as the district moves forward with development.  This will help the district plan for the future.

Chinea added that quite a few of the campuses utilize on street parking due to overflow in the parking lots, but wouldn’t recommend relying on it.

The list of recommended additional spots at each location is as follows:

  • College Hill- 4
  • Eugene Field- 0
  • Amanda Arnold- 32
  • Bergman- 26
  • Bluemont- 18
  • Lee- 19
  • Marlatt- 19
  • Northview- 37
  • Ogden- 17
  • Theodore Roosevelt- 43
  • Woodrow Wilson- 24
  • Susan B. Anthony- 0
  • Dwight D. Eisenhower- 0

Assistant Superintendent Eric Reid says they did not include Manhattan High School in this study because the campus will have its own.

After the presentation, several members of the community voiced their concerns over additional parking.  Flint Hills Metropolitan Planning Organization Project Manager Jared Tremblay says he was there to represent the neighborhood around Woodrow Wilson Elementary School.  He says the additional parking will increase traffic to the school and raise the risk of a kid getting hit.  He urged the staff to use the on street parking because, according to him, that’s what they were designed for.

Lee Elementary Parent Houston Gibson says he can find no educational benefit to students by adding additional parking.  He went on to list the negative impacts such as urban heat island effects and storm water runoffs.

During the board comments, Board Member Jurdene Coleman says the have a difficult decision to make to balance the needs of the community and the staff.  This may mean choosing the staff over the community for this specific topic.  The number one issue brought up at each building site in the district for the bond survey was parking.

The board also approved the first reading of new guidelines for transgender students in the district.  Board Members Coleman and Katrina Lewison brought these guidelines to the board after attending a conference in Topeka. These guidelines are somewhat based on the ones used in the Topeka school district.

Lewison says they learned the USD 383 guidelines may not be up to date as they should be.  The new guidelines would state the purpose is to create a safe space for all students.  The goal is to is to ensure safety, comfort, and healthy development of transgender and gender nonconforming students, while maximizing the students social integration and minimizing stigmatization.

Lewison believes this is something that people can get behind because it is about the safety of their students.  However, resident and current USD 383 employee Jason Kazar made a public comment wanting further input and research.  He wants community and teacher input on the guidelines.  There are some guidelines he believes do not address physical safety, right to privacy, and competitive fairness.

Coleman brought up that rejection of one’s true gender is very harmful to transgender students and could lead to suicidal thoughts. She also says most of the concerns Kazar had were already addressed in the guidelines.

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