As they do each year, the summer months have flittered by all too quickly, and we are beginning to see the first tell-tale signs of fall creeping in.  The deep green of the neighborhood trees begin to take on tinges of yellow, orange and red, while the temperatures are starting to fall (if ever-so-slightly) and the neighborhood kids all take a collective deep breath and prepare for the return to school.  But it is not only these clever kiddies that should be making the appropriate preparations for the coming term, your neighborhood homeowners association has plenty of homework that should be completed before the first bell rings.  By taking a few extra steps, and making the extra effort (extra credit, as it were), the HOA can help to ensure a successful start to the school year, and help to promote the safety and peace of mind of all residents throughout the school year.  

Landscaping Around Bus Stops

Talk to the local school district and transportation department for the surrounding schools so that you are aware of all places that have been designated as bus stops throughout your community  (be aware that these spots may change in the first few weeks of school, so check back frequently to be sure that you have the most up to date and correct information). Over the course of the school year and into the summer months, trees and bushes can get a bit unruly and start to overtake sidewalks and walking paths.  While this may be just a mild nuisance and look a bit unkempt for any other area in your neighborhood, in spots where children will be waiting in groups, as well as entering and exiting buses, this neglect can create very real safety concerns for both students and drivers navigating the community streets at the same time the busses are running their routes.  Your association should take extra care in landscaping these areas to be sure that there is plenty of room for your shrimpy scholars to congregate safely and that drivers will be able to see them clearly, even from a distance, as they approach.  

Check Out Your Sidewalks

Whether they are walking, riding their bikes, or happily scooting their way to the school, your neighborhood sidewalks are sure to see plenty of traffic in the coming months.  Travel your community’s sidewalks and make note of any cracking or trip/fall hazards and schedule repairs.  If you have ever spent any time around kids, you know, if there is something to be tripped on… they will… hard.  Be sure to check out drainage and clear out any debris that may have collected in drains that could cause future damage or flooding.  Not only will this benefit all of your neighborhood kids as they travel to and from school, but it will improve the overall walkability and appearance of your community, something that we know is at the top of the to-do list for all prudent associations.  

Community Awareness

One of the best things that you can do leading up to the start of school is to be sure that your community is well aware of all that goes along with having a school and students within the neighborhood.  Take the time to lay out safety rules surrounding school busses.  Clearly communicate the exact location of all stops, times that routes will be running, as well as traffic rules in regards to busses.  Make sure that all community members are clear as to where school zones start and begin, as well as the appropriate speeds for these areas.  This information can be communicated a number of ways, but you may find it to be beneficial to host a “back to school night” for your community.  Here, you can clearly disseminate all important information, while allowing your residents an opportunity to connect and have some fun before the school year really picks up.  If you’re feeling especially motivated (you always were the teacher’s pet), then go for extra credit and organize a school supply drive to benefit the students of your neighborhood school(s).