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A Statement on the Permanent Vacation of School Avenue

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Sarasota County Schools Seeks Permanent Vacation of School Avenue – May 8, 2018

In an effort to keep students and staff at Sarasota High School as safe as possible, the Sarasota County School District is seeking the permanent closure of School Avenue between Hatton and Tami Sola Streets. The Sarasota High School campus is divided by School Avenue, where as many as seven thousand crossings take place each day by students and staff.

Currently, School Avenue is closed to motor vehicle traffic during the school day from 6:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.; however, pedestrians and bicyclists can access the school campus at any time, creating a safety and security concern.

“It is vital that we ensure the safety and well-being of our students and staff at Sarasota High School,” commented Todd Bowden, superintendent of Sarasota County Schools. “Anyone at any time can walk onto our campus and approach a student one-on-one or leave something behind that’s intended to do harm. As a community, we have an obligation to protect our children, and the permanent vacation of School Avenue will help us do so.”

In addition to students and staff crossing the road multiple times each day, many people remain on campus after hours, causing a potential hazard when the street reopens daily. The school district is proposing a two-step process to permanently close School Avenue. The first step is to close the street to all motor vehicle, pedestrian and bicycle traffic during the school day and extend the hours of closure from 6:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., which will help ensure a single point visitor access for anyone visiting the school. Single point visitor access has been proven to help manage and monitor the flow of visitors on school campuses, and is an important part of an integrated safety and security plan. It will be ideal to have this in place at the start of the 2018-19 school year on August 13. The second phase would be the permanent closure of School Avenue, which would include creating a seamless design of the high school campus and close it to all traffic. 

Sarasota County Schools, along with the City of Sarasota, will hold public forums in the coming weeks, including a joint work session on May 8 at 6 p.m. at Sarasota City Hall and a public meeting on May 14 at 6 p.m. at Sarasota High School for public comment and feedback. To learn more, you can visit the Sarasota County Schools website.


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