During the 2007 to 2008 school year, the Sherman School District and the town of Sherman, IL, applied for and received $247,975 in Safe Routes to School (SRTS) funding from the Illinois Department of Transportation (IL DOT). Before applying for the grant and starting an SRTS program, two percent of the kindergarten through fifth grade students from Sherman Elementary walked to school, and less than one percent bicycled, despite the fact that almost 40 percent of the students lived within walking distance of the school. The remaining students rode the bus or arrived in a family vehicle. Results from a parent survey revealed that most parents did not allow their children to walk to school because of traffic congestion and speed, the distance from school and a lack of sidewalks.
Of the funds awarded, Sherman Elementary School received $10,750 for a Walking School Bus and safety education materials. The curriculum is age-appropriate for grades kindergarten through fifth and covers pedestrian and bicycle safety. At the junior high level, videos and DVDs are used to inform the students of safety procedures. The Walking School Bus will begin in the Fall 2008 and parents already have agreed to lead the buses, which will run one or two days a week. There are plans to purchase safety vests for the children and whistles for the parents.
The Village of Sherman received $231,000 for a sidewalk project to get students safely to the elementary school from the nearby subdivisions. Also, the Sherman Police Department received $6,225 funding for a Speed Feedback Trailer that will alert motorists of their speed while traveling in the school zone.
Both the school district and the city are waiting for official approval from IL DOT before beginning the infrastructure and non-infrastructure projects. Once approval comes, the school district and the city plan to implement the curriculum and Walking School Buses by the start of the 2008 to 2009 school year. The sidewalk is anticipated to be completed by the end of the two year grant period.