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Laurel School’s New Campus to Bring Relief From M-A’s Traffic

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M-A students may soon find relief from traffic coming and going from school this fall due to a new school being built at the previous site of the German-American International School. This new school is an upper campus to Laurel Elementary, and will be servicing students between third and fifth grade.

Studies about the traffic around M-A by Benson Lee Consulting and Arch Beach Consulting show that some streets receive D, E, or F ratings during some times of the day according to the LOS grading scale.These ratings show how much delay there is on a road on a typical day. An A rating means that there are 0-10 seconds of delay, while an F rating shows that there are 80.1 seconds or greater of delay. A delay rating of D, E, or F means that there is an unacceptable amount of traffic. For example, the intersection between Ravenswood Avenue and Middlefield Road receives an E rating of 76.2 seconds of delay. With the amount of schools within a 3-mile radius of M-A, plus M-A itself, it is no wonder that our streets score so low.

Over the past decade, the number of students enrolling in public schools has grown much larger than what was expected in 2006. Elementary and middle schools have had to deal with this growth sooner than high schools due to the large number of kids born more recently in the Menlo Park City School District (MPCSD). High schools will not have to deal with this large influx for another couple of years.

An overcrowded Laurel School turns to using the Staff Lounge as a classroom in order to hold more students.
An overcrowded Laurel School turns to using the Staff Lounge as a classroom in order to hold more students.

To cope with new students, the MPCSD has decided to build an upper campus of Laurel Elementary on the site of the old German-American school, that will be opening on October 17th. The upper campus plans to hold 45 more students than the German-American School did.

Building a new school was necessary for the MPCSD; the previous Laurel campus held around 100 more students than it was designed to. However, what will the effects be? Neighborhoods around the new school have raised complaints that it will bring in an influx of traffic around the area. This includes several major streets M-A students use to get to school such as Middlefield Road, Coleman Avenue, Ringwood Avenue, and Willow Road.

However, studies done by the Benson Lee and Arch Beach consulting companies show that these complaints have little evidence backing them up. Not only is there nothing pointing towards negative effects on the traffic on these streets, but the traffic might actually improve.

The logic is that with fewer students trying to go to one location, the original Laurel Elementary, the amount of traffic on the streets will even out. Students who live in The Willows and that surrounding area will not have to drive to school. The MPCSD has also taken measures to decrease the amount of cars on the road by creating new bike lanes, updating sidewalks, and improving the conditions of the streets around the new school.

Ahmed Sheikholeslami, Chief Business and Operations Manager at Laurel School, further confirmed that the traffic is “probably going to be better. [Their] goal is to reduce the number of cars on the road.” Sheikholeslami assured, “We will be providing a bus service, and we’ve designed a pretty good drop-off and pick-up system.”

Additionally, Laurel school will generate significantly fewer trips than the German-American school . The German-American school generated an average of 920 daily trips, while the Laurel upper campus will likely produce about 464. That means 456 less trips a day. According to Sheikholeslami, this is because “most of the German-American school students came from areas other than Menlo Park; a lot of them were commuting. Since the upper campus is a neighborhood school, less students will need to drive.”

M-A students who walk, bike, take the bus, or drive to school may feel the impact of shortened traffic around the Willows. Hopefully, this new school will lead to an easier daily commute.

My name is Sabrina Watkins and I am a new member of the M-A Chronicle. I am looking forward to delving into the world of journalism, specifically covering politics. When I am not in school, I enjoy working on the M-A robotics team as the lead mechanic and helping out in my mother's kindergarten class at Laurel Elementary School. Like many other teenagers, I also enjoy a healthy helping of pop culture, obsessing over TV shows, movies, books, musicals, music , and Nutella. I'm looking forward to an enlightening school year.

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