COLUMBIA — Whether or not more parking spaces are added to a lot at Jefferson Junior High School, parents are taking action to prevent further parking problems.
At a Jefferson Junior PTA Meet the Teacher Night on Thursday, PTA President June Hurdle announced plans to start a carpool coordination program.
The program is a response to a public discussion around expanding the school's parking lot at Hickman Avenue and Sixth Street to include 13 more spaces. More parking is sought to improve safety for students being dropped off at the school.
Many neighborhood residents support more parking, but at a forum on Aug. 30 some told members of the Columbia School Board and city officials that more parking would worsen stormwater flooding in the area.
As reported in a previous Missourian story, Ian Thomas, executive director of the PedNet Coalition, suggested Jefferson Junior provide educational programs to encourage more children to walk and bike to school.
Hurdle said her efforts to start a carpool coordination program are meant to complement Thomas’ suggestion.
“A large number of students are not within walking distance,” she said.
After debriefing with Jefferson Junior principal Gregery Caine, Hurdle said she wanted to find a cost-effective option and stimulate discussion.
“Let’s be creative here,” Hurdle said.
For parent Leah Johnson, getting her son to and from school can be challenging, leaving her with few options but to park at Columbia College.
“It’s about finding a place to stop and sit for a few minutes," Johnson said. "When I see him walk out, I let him jump in and leave.”
At the Aug. 30 forum, John Clark, president of the North Central Columbia Neighborhood Association, suggested the school look into sharing parking with Columbia College, but previous discussions with members of the college's administration have not succeeded.
Columbia College student Jeran Fisher said the college does not guarantee parking space when it issues permits.
“It appears to be overcapacity,” Fisher said. “Parking is very difficult.”
Bob Hutton, executive director of administrative services at Columbia College, said it is normal to issue more permits than the approximate 900 spots on the property, excluding city streets, because of staggered parking throughout the day.
He said the college can expect enough spaces for its own faculty, staff and students, but large events at Jefferson Junior create problems for evening classes.
“It’s pretty much impossible to share because we need the spots at the same time,” Hutton said.
Parents interested in learning more about the carpooling coordination program or signing up can call the main office of Jefferson Junior at 214-3210.