Schools, Town Respond To Snow, Safety Issues
Superintendent of Schools: "We expected the walkways would be cleared to a significant extent ... Clearly, there were some areas that were less ready than we would have hoped."
Schools re-opened Tuesday after the Blizzard of 2013, but some parents were upset that sidewalks were not plowed for walkers, crosswalks were blocked and bus stops were not plowed out.
Framingham Superintendent of Schools Stacy Scott has closed school on Monday, due to a lack of sidewalks and clear roads. But for some parents they saw no difference between Monday and Tuesday, and yet school was open.
"My question would be about consistency... why no school on Monday (sidewalks not cleared)... But, school on Tuesday (sidewalks not cleared)?," wrote parent Andrea Adrian on Framingham Patch Facebook page.
"This was obviously a major storm and we will be digging out for much of the week," said Scott Tuesday afternoon to Framingham Patch. "We have been in constant communication with the Town officials. We expected the walkways would be cleared to a significant extent. We monitored troubled spots that we listed needed to be done and decided to open schools when it appeared these would be taken care of in time. Clearly, there were some areas that were less ready than we would have hoped."
Parents complained for example, that Warren Road, near two schools, Brook Street, again ear two school and Central Street had sidewalks not plowed Tuesday morning.
Framingham Public Schools was not the only school in town dealing with snow issues. In downtown Framingham, the Christa McAuliffe Regional Public Charter School found its sidewalks not plowed, its street too narrow, crosswalks blocked and no place for parents to drop off and pick up students on Tuesday morning.
McAuliffe Director of Business & Operations, Cheryl Lombardo contacted Framingham DPW and was very pleased with their response. (See the attached photo.)
Framingham Public Schools did a reverse 9-1-1 early Tuesday morning to parents. "We put out notice to parents so that extra care was taken by those walking," said Scott. Some parents, even with the notice, were not happy with the conditions.
"The sidewalks in this area and those directly surrounding the school AND it's crosswalks have not been plowed. The snow drifts are, in some areas, over 4 feet tall and visibility for both drivers and pedestrians is, at best, dangerously poor," wrote Turner, who has two elementary-age children.
As the conditions were so poor for the start of school, Turner said her husband drove the kids to school - "a first."
After parking the car where designated by the school, "because the sidewalks were not plowed and access to the ONLY crosswalk was blocked, he had to take our children across the middle of the street. At the same time he was attempting to cross, a fire truck and ambulance were trying to get through the same intersection, for which there was barely enough room."
Scott responded to Turner and heard from other Parents yesterday, too.
"We appreciate parents taking the time to share their concerns so that we can improve our service to them," Scott said.
By Tuesday afternoon, before McCarthy Elementary students were released, the sidewalks in the Warren Road neighborhood were plowed, but the crosswalks at the elementary school were still blocked, said Turner.
Several parents complained about conditions in the morning, but as the day progressed, the Framingham DPW was able to improve the conditions for the afternoon release from school.
Framingham Patch, as it was receiving many calls, texts and emails Tuesday morning about the conditions, posted a talker article on our site for parents to discuss the conditions. Discussion also spilled over on the Framingham Patch Facebook page.
For example Central and Brook streets had no sidewalks Tuesday morning but "walkers" had sidewalks in the afternoon. There are more than 2,000 walkers in the Framingham Public Schools.
"We also expected that additional work done during the day would make the walk home safer," added Scott.
"Unfortunately, there is limited equipment available for clean up during these crises. We are grateful to the Town for it efforts in clearing the nearly 110 miles of sidewalks in the Town," said Scott. "We hope to increase our capacity to clear sidewalks near schools more quickly."
Tuesday night at the Framingham Selectmen's meeting Town Manager Bob Halpin said the town's "DPW has performed remarkable well in light of the volume of snow and while roadways remain narrowed and constricted by Monday morning they were remarkably clear and passable."
Halpin said on Sunday, the town had only cleared about 20 percent of the town's sidewalks.
Parents, Like Turner, understood the town has many miles of sidewalks, but questioned the priority list.
"In the very least, why are the sidewalks surrounding the schools not the top priority?," asked Turner. "I do realize that there was a lot of snow that fell very quickly, but it feels like more should have been done to prepare the school zones safely before allowing the children back to school."
Editor's Note: Sidewalks plows were witnessed still working at 6:30 p.m. on Franklin Street Tuesday and again at 8:45 p.m.
Halpin told Selectmen he received a number of compliments on the Framingham DPW for its efforts during the blizzard.
Framingham Patch did too, but some residents questioned why DPW is responsible for clearing sidewalks and why can't homeowners and businesses be responsible for clearing sidealks in front of their own properties; and be fined if they don't comply.
Selectman Chair Charlie Sitisky started Tuesday night's meeting commending Framingham DPW for their efforts removing snow after the blizzard. The National Weather Service had a report of Framingham receiving 32 inches of snow.
They did an excellent job," with all the snow we received," he said. "We appreciate what they did over the weekend."