The city of Marion and the McDowell County Board of Education have agreed to work together to solve a school-related traffic issue on Fleming Avenue.
The agreement came about after residents’ complaints about traffic overflowing onto Fleming Avenue from afternoon child pick up at Marion Elementary. According to statements made at the meeting, parents and caregivers are lining up early, some at 1 p.m., to pick up children from school when the bell rings at 2:45 p.m.
“On the two days we observed in different months, there is about 22 to 25 cars depending on the day,” said Superintendant Mark Garrett said at Monday’s meeting.
He said he and City Manager Bob Boyette have worked together to come up with a solution.
The city has offered to fund work that would take the existing gate and move it back while adding more fencing to protect the students in the playground area. Folks who show up early to pick up their students would be able to stack in that area three cars wide, with little overflow onto Fleming.
“We would slide the gate down and construct a fence along the border of the driveway,” said Garrett. “With that proposal, it would relieve a lot of pressure on that street. The city is looking to fund the fence, the labor and the gate, so it would be no capital investment on our part. We would have to enter into an agreement to meet their statutory requirements because the city can’t fund a county school system, but they can help us with safety projects.”
Board member Terry English asked Marion Elementary Principal Rodney Slagle his opinion on the matter.
“I go along with what Mr. Garrett has said, but I’m not sure what the perfect answer is. My proposal two years ago was to put a road at the back of the school,” said Slagle.
Garrett said agreeing to this adjustment would not impede any future plans on the traffic issues.
The board approved the agreement unanimously.
Other business from the meeting:
• Garrett updated the board on the athletic facilities project. A review for the final drawings on Phase II was held on Wednesday, Jan. 25. A few adjustments were made, and a pre-bid conference was held on Thursday, Feb. 9 at 2:30 p.m. Nine companies showed interest in the project. To move forward, the board needs three bids. Bids will be open on Tuesday, Feb. 28 at 2:30 p.m. in the board room. A special-called meeting will be on Friday, March 3 at noon to review the bids with the architect. The project is expected to be completed by July 15 prior to fall sports.
• Board member Amy Moomaw updated the board on Head Start. They held a Bring Books to Life event where many of the classrooms decorated and transformed into a specific book. On Thursday, Feb. 23 at 5:30 p.m. Moomaw announced Head Start will be holding a health fair for students, parents and the public. A survey was sent out to parents posing the question on topics they would like more information on. Moomaw said 68 percent said they would like more information on how to get their child ready for kindergarten, and 63 percent of parents wanted to know what activities they could do to help their child learn and grown.
• Board member and finance committee chairman Terry English updated the board on the recent audit report. There were no findings to ward any action, according to English. The board approved the audit unanimously.
• The board approved a motion to give a bonus to staff that is not paid by state funds as long as they meet certain employment criteria. The total of the bonus to be divided out among those employees will be $37,000, and could include teacher assistants and child and nutrition staff. A motion to accept the bonus was approved unanimously.