The school year has begun! Families are preparing for the start of a new school year and so will your HOA. For an HOA board, this means one thing — safety and community. Your board has a responsibility to ensure the safety of not only your neighborhood, but your families — especially for those walking the sidewalks or driving home from school everyday. As a way for the HOA to contribute, let's explore ways to prepare your HOA for back to school.
One way an HOA board can prepare for school is by scheduling a walk-through of your community's landscape. For example, inspect crosswalks and sidewalks for clear visibility of signage such as crosswalks, traffic signals and bus stops. This also includes street hazards and damage to sidewalks and potholes. Encourage members to participate by asking them to inspect their property and outside landscaping for any hazards as well.
- Suggest that members submit notices to their board about any severe safety hazards that may cause harm or danger to young children walking the sidewalks in their neighborhood.
- Request for members to schedule their water sprinkles outside of times that children or parents may be walking the sidewalks to and from school. This will also help prevent any dangers from having to walk on the roads as cars drive by.
- Send out memos regarding tree maintenance — request that trees and lawns be well maintained so that they are not blocking school or traffic signs.
- Move trash cans - remind members to place their trash cans in their proper place, so that they do not block sidewalks before and after school hours. This can also be a great way to help prevent future traffic accidents or blockage in the road.
2. Community back-to-school night
As a way to engage more members, consider hosting a community back-to-school event. This could work as both a community meeting and a fun way to start the school year!
- Include a short community discussion/Q&A that allows parents to ask any questions or give feedback regarding: carpools, traffic safety, landscaping, or bus stop schedules.
- Encourage parents to allow their kids to meet other fellow children that may be in their class. This helps engage members, along with meeting new friends and potential walking buddies for those that have to walk or ride a bike to school alone.
- Ice cream social - What kid doesn't love ice cream! Encourage the whole family to come out by creating an HOA ice cream social. Include treats and social activities that the whole family can participate in. If crunched for time, hire a local ice cream or food truck as a way to keep things easy and quick.
3. Traffic and driver safety
Back to school means an increase in neighborhood traffic — whether that be by bus, car, riding a bike or walking. Always keep in mind that children and young adults, including their parents, will be out in the early morning and after school hours.
- Create and send out a community memo regarding road safety and traffic violations.
- Outline your state laws and HOA guidelines regarding school buses and driving on the road. For example, provide instructions on what to do when encountering a bus stop or crosswalk while driving.
- Ask parents to remind children and young teens about the importance of: looking both ways while crossing streets, driving slowly around neighborhood roads and 4 way crossings, stranger danger, crosswalk and bus stop laws, no texting while driving, and a visual road map of their route home.
- Host an HOA community meeting to guide parents that are new to carpools and neighborhood traffic safety laws and guidelines.
- Provide a written copy of all traffic rules and violations within your HOA.
- Encourage parents to communicate with their young teens on the importance of neighborhood safety and watching for younger children that may need assistance.
4. Host a community back-to-school supplies drive
Another way to help prepare your HOA for back to school is by hosting a community back-to-school supplies drive. This works as an opportunity to help families that may need additional help purchasing school supplies. When people feel like they are part of something important, it not only increases engagement, but a positive change in environment.
- Encourage families to join in and participate.
- Provide a venue and beverages/food for those that are volunteering.
- Consider providing a list of suggested supplies such as: crayons, notebooks, folders, paper, markers, tissue, hand sanitizer, glue sticks and pencils.
- Be sure to follow up with a thank you note to all those that participate and help.
- Post pictures on social media as a way to show a positive reflection of the community.
5. Carpool system
A carpool system is another large responsibility of preparing for school back to school. As a way to show support and engagement, consider hosting an HOA carpool volunteer night to help parents arrange proper carpool arrangements.
- Utilize a community channel of communication such as TownSq to post an announcement.
- Create a signup for interested parents that may want to consider being part of the community carpool in the near future. This also helps to build an email list and point of contacts for parents that are interested in participating.
- Host parents by providing them with a venue and beverages to have their meeting — this will encourage support from not only the HOA, but its board members as well.
- Provide members with a list of contacts such as a point of contact for community emergencies and roadside assistance. Most importantly, encourage members to call 911 in the case of a severe emergency.
- Gift carpool volunteers items such as: free chargers, water bottles or an emergency first aid kit to keep on hand while driving to and from school.
6. Parents night out
What better way to encourage community than by hosting a parents night out! This works as a great way for parents to relax and let loose before the school year begins.
- Host a movie night at your local community center.
- Host a game, trivia or karaoke night!
- Provide those that attend with beverages and food so that they’re able to enjoy the night and see how much their HOA supports them.