Jean Doran Matua, Editor
Parents dropping off kids for their first day of school Tuesday morning, Sept. 3, would have noticed some major changes to the exterior of the EV-W elementary schools in both Eden Valley and Watkins.
First, in Eden Valley from Meeker-Stearns Street, the view is clearer. The district was able to purchase a house on the school side of Meeker-Stearns, then removed the house and trees, and moved the garage. There is a clear view to the school now, with two entry ways (instead of one) to a larger and improved parking lot.
Once closer to the elementary school in Eden Valley, there is a raised, curbed sidewalk separating a bus drop-off area on the east side. This makes for a safe area for students to load and unload school buses without other vehicle traffic in the way.
On the west side of the dividing sidewalk is the parent drop-off and pick-up area. Parents are to drive up and along the sidewalk parallel with the front of the school, each in turn. From there, students can enter the school building within view of the parent. At the end of the day, students can line up along the curb of the sidewalk as parents line up in vehicles to pick them up. No students will be allowed to walk (or run) through the parking lot to meet their ride home. This will increase safety for students on both ends of the school day.
At the elementary school in Watkins (which has kindergarten and preschool students only), improvements are well under way to improve safety and security as well. The parking area has not changed in Watkins, although there is still construction materials in the baseball parking lot. A new, secure entrance is a feature at Watkins as well. All visitors must now enter through the school office.
Work on both schools has been ongoing this summer, and it is nearing completion. As the deadline for that first school day neared, construction efforts were focused on student areas. Several offices are not yet complete, but staff are easier to shuffle around than are students.
There were a few minor snags in the process this first day of school, but everything looks like a great – and safe – start to the 2019-2020 school year at EV-W.
This marks phase 1 of a total $8 million project approved by voters in 2018. Phase 2 will be at the high school starting next summer, largely focusing on the 1927 original building in Eden Valley.