New Mexico school district hopes to transform how students get to school

Education

A New Mexico school district is aiming to change the way students get to school.

The City of Santa Fe and the school district have applied for a federal grant to fund a transportation alternative program.

District and city leaders say IT’S all about reducing the number of cars around schools and getting students outside and exercising.

Once a month, students at Chaparral Elementary in Santa Fe get to walk or bike to school.

“It’s pretty fun to walk, talk and look outside,” said Antonio Anaya.

The ‘Walk and Roll’ program is just at this school for now, but district and city leaders have applied for a federal grant to change how kindergarten-eighth grade students throughout the city are getting to class.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for our children to get out and get some exercise in the morning. It’s a nice way to start the day,” said parent Peggy Cheely.

The idea is to have more kids walking or biking to school. The grant money would create a safe route coordinator position within the district, and develop programs to educate teachers, students, parents and drivers.

“There would be events, there would be bike rodeos at the schools, there would be bike helmet giveaways,” said Elena Kayak, Santa Fe Public School Sustainability Program Specialist.

District leaders say for now, this is a non-infrastructure program, meaning there wouldn’t be any added bike lanes or walking paths.

“This is a sustainability program that we anticipate will reduce congestion, which happens twice daily around the school during drop off and pick up times,” Kayak said.

Officials say they are aiming to include students that live within a mile from the school.

“There will be specific safe routes that will be promoted and utilized,” said Parks and Rec Director John Munoz.

District leaders say if they are awarded the grant, they will need lots of participation from parents to help teachers supervise students walking and biking to school.

The $340,000 grant would fund the program for two years.They won’t know if they’ve been awarded the grant until spring of next year.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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