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Harrison up next for Safe Routes to School project

The goal of the federal Safe Routes to School program is to identify improvements around schools that could be done to develop safer routes for students to walk and bike to schools.

Harrison Elementary School on Oak Street in Brainerd. Brainerd Dispatch file photo

Harrison Elementary is the next Brainerd school on the docket to receive infrastructure updates to the surrounding area as part of the Safe Routes to School program.

The goal of the federal Safe Routes to School program is to identify improvements around schools that could be done to develop safer routes for students to walk and bike to schools. This project would help further that initiative near Harrison Elementary School. The city has already completed projects near Lowell and Garfield schools.

The Brainerd School Board gave its support Nov. 22 for a project at Harrison that would see a median on Oak Street between Southeast 15th and 16th streets, along with bump outs on the corners of those intersections. The city has submitted a grant application for $500,000 to the Minnesota Department of Transportation for the project. The next step is engineering and design.

“Essentially, it’s sidewalk improvements, it’s crossing improvements, it’s adding a median — some sort of a median design to Oak Street,” Reid Thiesse, school district building and grounds director, told the board Nov. 22, noting a median would create a narrower drive lane, which tends to slow down traffic and provides safe refuge for pedestrians crossing the street.

“We know — at least I feel this way — when you drive down Oak Street you see those old yellow, slow blinking lights that people get numb to those and they just breeze right on through. So there’s some significant engineering improvements that we’ve talked about,” Thiesse said.


The city will head up the project, which will have no out-of-pocket cost to the school district.

School and city officials anticipate a Safe Routes to School project near Riverside Elementary School in the future.

In other business Nov. 22, the board:

Approved new hires: Laura Welch, long-term substitute teacher at Riverside Elementary School; Savannah Bailey, special education paraprofessional at Baxter Elementary School; Lena Dizinku, special education paraprofessional at Lincoln Education Center; Adam Humphrey, districtwide custodian; Kayla Kelly, special education paraprofessional at Washington Educational Services Building; Sara Larson, special education paraprofessional at Warrior Early Learning Center; Michael Ploof, part-time substitute custodian; Sarah Torelli, special education paraprofessional at Forestview Middle School; Neilie Towne, assistant cook at Lowell Elementary School; Mary Aldridge, American Indian liaison; Toby Berg, districtwide child care program assistant; Jeff Berhow, assistant wrestling coach at Forestview; David Bostrom, athletic official at Forestview; Colleen Bratney, junior high knowledge bowl coach at Forestview; Elizabeth Crimmins, behavior management specialist at Riverside Elementary; Timothy Fredrickson, districtwide community education enrichment instructor; Micah Halbersma, athletic official at Forestview; Ilda Johnson, districtwide child care program assistant; Oriauna Moen, districtwide child care program assistant; Alexander Paysse, athletic official at Forestview; Karlie Ray, child care site supervisor at Nisswa Elementary School; Britni Robertson, seventh grade girls basketball coach at Forestview; Lorri Reuer, athletic official at Forestview; Sawyer Riffle, athletic official at Forestview; and Brady Sykora, head wrestling coach at Forestview.

Accepted donations to the district: $300 from Day By Day for the Brainerd High School student council; $1,000 from Precision Tool Technologies for the BHS robotics club; 120 knitted hats from Arlyce Harms for fourth graders at Riverside Elementary; $101 from Mason Mankowski for the BHS super mileage club.

THERESA BOURKE may be reached at or 218-855-5860. Follow her on Twitter at .
Related Topics: EDUCATION
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