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Trail money sought
Grant would encourage healthy student commutes
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Forsyth County News
The Forsyth County school system is pursuing a grant for a project that could encourage children to take healthier routes to school.

Jennifer Caracciolo, a spokeswoman for the district, told the Board of Education on Thursday that the federal grant would pay for walkways and bikeways within a two-mile radius of a school.

In this case, Vickery Creek Elementary and Middle schools, both on Post Road in south Forsyth, would be the beneficiaries if the district receives the funding.

The grant is part of the national Safe Routes to Schools program designed to promote and encourage students in kindergarten through eighth grade to walk or ride their bicycles to school.

The school system has worked with county government in an effort to secure the grant, Carraciolo said.

She said the Forsyth County commission is expected to consider the application for the grant, which won’t be awarded until spring, at its Nov. 25 meeting.

“Our job was to make recommendations to them and then they will take that information and pick and choose from it what they would like,” Caracciolo said.

She said high schools are not eligible for the grant.

“It’s a one-year grant and actually the Department of Transportation will come and they will do all the (construction) work,” she said. “The county does not have to do it and we will not have to do it at all.”

Brian Carlisle, geographic information systems coordinator for the district, said the project would cost about $464,000.

The Vickery Creek schools have the highest number of students living within a safe walking distance of campus.

“We were hoping for multiple projects, but all the projects were large enough to where we had to narrow it down to one project,” he said.

“What we were looking for is a project that would be as competitive as possible because there’s a limited number of grants available.”

Carlisle said the proposed paths would provide access to the Polo Fields subdivision and link to the Big Creek Greenway multi-use trail, which is under construction.

“It only took a few hundred extra feet of sidewalk to hook up to the greenway and that actually provides access to students outside this area,” he said. “Those are areas like Coventry and Forest Brooke.

“So there are some other areas that if these kids wanted to ride their bicycle it’s still realistic if they want to ride a bicycle there.”

Todd Shirley, the district’s athletic director, presented the education component of the Safe Routes program.

“We are going to take one subject area from a grade level, one standard, and an activity that is connected to these and we are going to ask the teacher to document when they complete that standard or when they demonstrate this activity,” Shirley said.

“In practice we are looking at kindergarteners demonstrating basic rules of bike and pedestrian safety all the way through middle school science ... It is a progression of an educational standard from [kindergarten] all the way through eighth.”

Caracciolo said the program also offers encouragement, enforcement and evaluation activities.

“They provide a huge guidebook with ideas of promotional ideas and things to get the parents and community involved,” she said.

For example, Caracciolo said, there would be awards at the end of the first year for students who walked or biked the most miles.

“And we would have little incentives along the way like umbrellas so they could use the walkways whenever it rains,” she said.

E-mail Julie Arrington at