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Surprise Elementary School

Planned wall in Arizona neighborhood would block shortcut for students, add a mile to school walk

A homeowners association in Surprise, Ariz., wants to build a wall that could force students to take a longer and potentially more dangerous route to their school.

A homeowners association in Surprise, Ariz., has voted to build a wall to block elementary students from a school entrance.

KPHO-TV reports that the students who attend Surprise Elementary School, a K-8 campus, can normally get to and from school in less than 10 minutes, but after the Rancho El Mirage homeowners association voted to build a wall blocking off the back part of the campus, it may take as much as 45 minutes for students to get to class.

Renee Ryon, director of communication for the Dysart School District, says the Ranch El Mirage Community is filled with families whose children attend Surprise Elementary.

“The reason why we moved into this community is because it was (so) close to the gate,” says Marth Lozan, who lives two houses away from the steel structure. “It was very convenient, and now they want to close it, I think it’s going to affect a lot of kids and families.”

Homeowners association guidelines state it is supposed to give community members advance notice of meetings, but many parenbts say they didn’t feel the early October meeting was publicized, especially concerning a topic that affects the safety of children.

”The concern with that is it adds a half-mile to mile walk for kids and it takes them onto major thoroughfares,” says Ryon.

The Arizona Republic reports that the homeowners association board took action because parents have been using the street leading to the back gate as a drop-off and pick-up area, speeding, driving into people's yards and blocking driveways.

After months of trying to work with the school and police department to get parents to stop using the cul-de-sac as a drop-off and pick-up area, the board notified residents that it has decided to build the wall

Ryon concedes that there have been complaints about student behavior and parking, but she says school leaders have addressed them.

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