Alvarado ISD’s board of yrustees set a precedent at its meeting Jan. 11 as it overlooked the increasing costs of two major projects to improve student safety.

The board allocated more that $850,000 to additional parking and a bus lane at Alvarado Elementary North and major repairs to the tennis courts at Alvarado High School.

The projects cost more than originally planned, but the board did not hesitate to approve the items after weighting the consequences of not going ahead with the plans.

“The students’ health and safety needs is always the deciding factor in any decision we make,” Superintendent Chester Juroska said. “How can you explain something to a parent whose child was injured when we were aware of a safety problem and didn’t address it?”

Elementary North, which is located at the intersection of Cummings Road and County Road 508, has been in need of additional parking for some time.

Because of the limited parking in front of the school, many parents prefer to park on the street instead of waiting in the long drop-off and pick-up lanes.

The project approved on Jan. 11 will create 66 additional parent parking spaces in front of the school and additional faculty parking behind the school.

The plans also allow for a new bus loop that will be separate from parent parking or car-rider lanes.

“AEN has focused on and been successful in increasing parent involvement and it is vitally important to have this partnership to ensure student success,” said Principal Lori Nunez. “The additional parking will add a sense of welcome to the campus as well as solve a major safety concern. The facultay and staff are thrilled about this new addition to our campus.”

At Alvarado High School, shifting soil under the tennis courts has made the playing surface on all eight courts hazardous. Numerous deep cracks have developed on each court, one of which has a metal cable that is now showing.

Tennis has been the school’s most successful sport in recent years, sending representatives to the state tournament each of the last two springs.

The tennis team is scheduled to host the District 12-3A tournament in April, but the playing surface may force the district to change locations.

“We regret that we are having problems with the courts, but we are fortunate to have an administration, school board and community that will do whatever it takes for student safety,” said Kenneth Estes, Alvarado High School principal.

Although both projects are a priority, neither will be completed until traffic around and in the schools decreases this summer.

The board also conducted its annual superintendent evaluation and extended Juroska’s contract by a year, giving him a three-year contract that will expire in 2013.

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