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Sandra Jepsen, center, walks with her daughters, Athena Mann, 3, and Shaila Calhoun, 8, during the walk and roll to school day for Fullerton IV Elementary students in May.

Douglas Education Service Department received a nearly $245,000 grant from the Oregon Department of Transportation’s Transportation Safety Division to educate children on safe transportation to schools.

“One of the things we’re looking to do is to purchase bicycles and a bike trailer that we can take around to schools to show kids how to safely ride and do little clinics on these bikes. How they should ride through obstacles or cones or next to cars or away from cars depending on the situation,” Douglas ESD Superintendent Michael Lasher said. “That’s part of the education. It’s also working with building principals to identify where hazards might be on particular routes to school.”

The education service department will hire a part-time Safe Routes to Schools county coordinator and a full-time AmeriCorps member to help promote and direct the non-infrastructure program.

There are also infrastructure grants available through ODOT and Lasher said he hopes the two people in charge of Safe Routes to School for Douglas ESD will help identify some areas that may qualify for those grants, so the education service district may start the grant writing process.

“If we could get a sidewalk all the way into Winston, it’d be very expensive. But as it happened in Green they got a sidewalk built to Sunnyslope,” Lasher said. There are no records of sidewalks being built leading to Sunnyslope, but Douglas County did receive a $2 million grant to construct new sidewalks, add bike lanes and improve crossings in the area near Green Elementary School earlier this year.

Days Creek Charter School received an infrastructure grant through ODOT’s Safe Routes to School program and did a walk to school audit on Wednesday.

“Within the city of Roseburg, a few years ago there weren’t any bike lanes around and now they’ve been mapped out on really all of the main thoroughfares,” Lasher said. “It’s educating kids about how to use those safely and how to ride on the road when those aren’t available, those kinds of things.”

Participating school districts include nine of the 13 served by DESD, according to documentation from ODOT. Lasher said that those were the nine school districts that submitted letters on behalf of DESD.

“We will certainly, the coordinator and the AmeriCorps volunteer, will work across all the districts, but they probably didn’t have time to give us a letter of support so they didn’t end up on the grant,” Lasher said.

Blue Zones Project Umpqua helped Douglas County Partners for Student Success Executive Director Gwen Soderberg-Chase with the grant application by creating a budget for the next three years, which will begin Oct. 1.

The program will teach student awareness and safe use of walking and biking routes. The grant will also help develop community coalition building, data collection, action plans, and encouragement events.

Other programs that received state funding were the Beaverton School District, the City of La Grande, Commute Options, the Grants Pass School District, Lane County, Medford School District, Mid-Willamette Valley Council of Governments, the Multnomah County Transportation Planning and Developments, Sky Lakes Medical Center Foundation and the Sweet Home School District.

Sanne Godfrey can be reached at sgodfrey@nrtoday.com.

or 541-957-4203. Follow her on Twitter @sannegodfrey.

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Education Reporter

Sanne Godfrey is the education reporter for The News-Review.

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