Children's safety gets mired in red tape

Every child has the right to walk to and from school safely.

For students in the North Kitsap School District who live less than a mile from the school, the parents are responsible for their children’s transportation to and from school.

At Suquamish Elementary, which has the highest population of students who walk to school each day, the staff decided something should be done to ensure students’ safety. So, in 2006, the Suquamish staff applied for a $500,000 federal grant from the Safe Routes to School Program to install a sidewalk to ensure student safety. The funds were delivered in December that same year. It was enough to pay for raised sidewalks on Geneva, Division and Park streets.

And all was fine and well ... until the county got involved.

In a miscommunication of sorts, the project that would have provided children with a safe route to school — hence the name of the program — has mushroomed into a $3 million bureaucratic beast.

Tina Nelson, the senior program manager for Kitsap County Public Works, cites three different road improvement projects that all tie into the students’ route to school — infrastructure improvements and such.

While breathing a sigh of relief that no children have been hurt so far, and applauding the school’s efforts to get a sidewalk installed, we can only hope everything works out best for the children.

Let’s hope it all gets worked out before any children get hurt on their way to or from school.

It’s just a downer that something as simple as a school applying for a federal grant to ensure their students’ safety can get wrapped up into something bigger than anyone ever thought necessary.

What a bummer.

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