GROVELAND – Superintendent Justin Bartholomew, Interim Bagnall Principal Jim Day and Groveland Director of Economic Development, Planning and Conservation Rebecca Oldham are pleased to share Pentucket’s Bagnall Elementary School and the Town of Groveland are being recognized by the state for their improved pedestrian and bicycle safety efforts.
The Dr. Elmer S. Bagnall School and Town of Groveland together will receive the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) 2021 Exemplary Program Award for the Northeast due to their work to improve pedestrian and bicycle safety this year.
Bagnall staff, even amid the challenges of the pandemic, have been working since the summer of 2020 to identify opportunities to improve safety for students as they travel to and from school, and has worked with the Town of Groveland to implement significant changes.
School Street (Route 97), the roadway to which the Bagnall’s campus connects, is a highly trafficked area that runs from the Haverhill city line through Groveland’s center to the Georgetown town line.
“This was a community effort from the start,” Superintendent Bartholomew said. “Our student families and community called for this change, and it was by working together and with the town we’ve been able to make this area far safer for students traveling to and from school. Well done to each and every person involved. It took tremendous work to push this through along with all of the other challenges we faced this year.”
The Town of Groveland was awarded a $29,590 grant from MassDOT’s Shared Winter Streets and Spaces program this winter to support work to improve road safety in the area of the Bagnall Elementary School, which included the installation of preventive safety measures for pedestrians and drivers on Route 97.
Conversations on how the district and town could improve safety in the area had started before the grant award.
During the summer of 2020 the district examined potential transportation safety improvements that would support COVID-19 protocols requiring social distancing, mask wearing and decreased numbers of students utilizing the school bus. In the fall, new transportation guidelines were implemented for buses, cars dropping off and picking up students, walkers and bikers, as the district saw more students than ever were either being driven to and from school by parents, guardians or caretakers, or walking or bicycling instead of using the bus due to the realities of the pandemic.
“Student safety is always our top priority, and given the challenges of the pandemic it became more important than ever to improve the roadway conditions and teach students about safety,” Principal Day said. “It is a great comfort for everyone to know that our students who walk and bike to school are safer as a result, but we continue to urge motorists in the community to be extra cautious when driving around school commute times.”
“We’ve had a great partner in the district in making these improvements, and are pleased to have been able to accomplish these improvements to make Groveland a safer place for everyone who uses our roadways,” Director Oldham said. “These changes were made possible by MassDOT, and we’re deeply thankful for their support of this critical work.”
In November, the district met with Director Oldham, the Safe Routes Coordinator for the effort; Groveland Police Detective Josh Sindoni; and Bagnall parents and guardians to discuss concerns and potential areas of improvement regarding school transportation.
The Safe Routes to School Group, a volunteer group including two parent volunteers, Sarah Martinez and Kim Schnepel, school nurse Amanda Durand, as well as school administration and staff, also walked Main Street in front of the school, area crosswalks, bike paths and so on, to note changes that needed to be made to better promote safety.
In December, a survey was shared with student families to collect more feedback, and those results were received and reviewed in January and February.
Various improvements to the area are ongoing and began this March, including:
- Staff training
- Educating students about pedestrian and bicycle safety
- Educational videos for families on best practices for school traffic
- Installation of a pedestrian-activated rapid flashing beacon at the intersection of Ashcroft and School Street.
- Installation of reflective strips on the crosswalk signage at the intersections of both Ashcroft and School Streets as well as School and Center Streets.
- New warning signage for drivers and pavement markings
A virtual ceremony is being held on June 2 at 10 a.m. by MassDOT to recognize the Bagnall and the Town of Groveland’s efforts to improve student safety when traveling to or from school.
For the latest updates, visit the district’s website by clicking here.