A major goal of St Augustine's Your Move program in 2022 was to reach Double Platinum status to be eligible to receive a $15,000 Connecting Schools Grant. With the success of that the your move program has had on boosting the number of students consistently riding to school over the past few years, we have had extra demand on placed our bike storage area, and we had definitely outgrown the 'permanently temporary' solution of parking bikes on the verandah outside the hall. This epic journey started as early as Term 3 in 2021, when Ms Khose and I decided that this would be our goal for 2022. As a team we worked hard to boost the activities and stories to earn at least 1500 points between January and August 2022.
By following our Activity Planner, we were able to reach Double Platinum status by Term 2, so we could relax a bit knowing that we had ticked off that eligibility requirement while we waited for the grants to be annouced. In late July, we heard the news that rather than a first-in-best-dressed process for the top level $15,000 grant packages, as had been the case in previous years, in 2022 schools who were eligible for a Double Platinum grant were now required to apply for the Major Funding by submitting an application form and responding to selection criteria detailing 1) alignment to Connecting Schools Grant objectives, 2) project description and 3) future commitment. It was clear that the application process would be very competitive, with only 4 grants available and at least 8 schools at Double Platinum status.
I quickly arranged a meeting with Mr D and Ms Khose to look at our current school infrastructure and discuss in more detail how our project might look. We looked at many options of where we could locate new bike parking shelter infrastructure in the limited space we had available on the school grounds. We took a lot of measurements and drew a lot of potential mud maps over the existing site plans, but we were not able to find a satisfactory solution on the school grounds which did not impede on the already limited playspace available to our students. We landed on the bold decision to attempt to work with the City of Belmont to locate the project on the verge. I contacted our local councillor who was very supportive of the idea and she put the idea to the Manager of Design, Assets and Development at the City of Belmont. The message was "if cars can park there, why can't bikes?".
We submitted a detailed application addressing the selection criteria. The turnaround for hearing the outcome of the application was less than a week. In our meeting with Carol-Ann, Mr D and I were very pleased to hear the result that we had been successful!! ...... Now it was time to get to work!
Unfortunately our innovative idea to house bike parking infrastructure on the verge pushed the (figurative) boundaries too far, and although we were keen to set a precedent that other schools with limited space could follow, the City officers did not agree with us that 'setting a precedent' would be a positive outcome. Without the CoB support, we had to go back to the drawing board.
After this setback, we really struggled to settle on a suitable location for a bike shelter that did not impinge on the students limited playspace and was secure from possible theft. In the meantime, the school had a change in leadership and we welcomed our new Principal, Ms Coniglio at the beginning of Term 1 2023. Ms Coniglio and I met on day 1 of the new year to ensure the project stayed afloat. We met with multiple builders and suppliers to help us to determine the best possible outcome for the school community and with these fresh eyes it was decided that a strange shaped and very cluttered area behind the school hall would best suit the schools needs.
With some clever Tetris skills we were able to draw plans for racking 28 bikes and 20 scooters under a patio style roof structure. To help decide whether this would be enough storage, the your move student team collected data daily for a 2 week period to determine our current bike usage. Results came back with an average of around 20 bikes per day (there is a classroom activity story in the pipeline for this). So we felt confident that the new storage would suit our current needs with some space to grow our cycling culture further.
Now that we had a clear plan, Carol-Ann was able to arrange for the DoT supplier to commence proceedings. The supplier has measured and custom designed a patio structure to suit to odd shape. Currently we are awaiting for the building permit before the building can commence. Meanwhile, the P & F held a busy bee to clear the clutter from the site. Once it was clear it appeared soo much bigger!
We have recently received our racks in flat packs, ready for installation when the shelter is complete. Now it really feels like things are getting real. Our school community can't wait.
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