Since its inception in April 2006, the Kansas Safe Routes to School (SRTS) Program has celebrated many accomplishments. From the creation of a SRTS steering committee of individuals from a diverse range of transportation-related backgrounds to a press conference announcing award recipients, the Kansas SRTS program has established itself as an influential and innovative state program.
One of the salient examples of the organization’s innovation is the development of a two-phased program approach to awarding funding. Upon applying for funding, applicants are separated into Phase I or Phase II programs. The applicants in Phase I programs seek funding to create a holistic SRTS plan.
Programs that request funding for the implementation of a SRTS plan that includes all 5 E’s, or 4 E’s if the program only includes non-infrastructure measures, are designated as Phase II. Within the first year of the program, this phase approach led to the successful funding of 24 programs — 22 Phase I programs and 2 Phase II programs, totaling of more than $731,000. By the second year, 11 more Phase I programs received funding.
Not only does Kansas SRTS provide the funding necessary for starting a program, it also tracks the progress of programs to ensure the desired results are achieved. Kansas SRTS requires all sponsored programs to collect data on the travel and social behaviors of the community. For Phase I programs, these data are in the form of “before” data collected through parent surveys and student tallies. Phase II programs collect their data using the same methods, but they must submit “during” and “after” data, as well. Once all of the data are compiled, Kansas SRTS staff assists the communities with the data analysis. These data are then used to encourage lawmakers to realize that the SRTS program is a worthwhile program for future transportation legislation because of the positive impact it has on urban, rural and suburban communities.
To promote the program and its accomplishments, Kansas SRTS staff presented at health and traffic conferences and published in professional periodicals. These activities offered the opportunity to inform the community while gaining support from key players in the field. Kansas SRTS also advanced the program by providing technical assistance to local communities and school districts, as well as to other states. The Kansas SRTS school coordinator provided seven communities with an on-site teaching of the SRTS National Course. In an effort to ensure that all communities, both rural and urban, understood the program, Kansas SRTS held two application workshops in accessible locations across the state, which garnered the attendance of more than 100 people.
The successes of Kansas SRTS would not have been possible without support from organizations, such as the Recreation Committee — Kansas Safe Kids Coalition, and SRTS “champions” within the department of transportation and other governmental agencies. The combined efforts of Kansas SRTS and the supporting entities led to the creation of a thriving program that applies a holistic approach to addressing the issue of safe routes to school while promoting appropriate solutions to community needs.
Kansas Department of Transportation
700 SW Harrison, 6th Floor
Topeka, KS 66603