The latest round of growing pains for Alcuin School seems to be approaching an amiable solution.
The school, located along Churchill Way between Preston Road and Hillcrest Road, has announced plans to add grades 10 through 12 during the next few years, after ushering in its first freshman class last fall.
That means that Alcuin needs the approval of the city of Dallas to expand its maximum number of upper-school students in its International Baccalaureate program from 35 to 135. The total student enrollment on campus would remain at no more than 700, although the school only has about 550 now.
Perhaps more importantly to those neighbors who’ve been opposed to Alcuin’s plan, the presence of more high school students means that for the first time, there will be student drivers going to and from campus.
It further complicates traffic along a congested stretch of Churchill that includes the Cooper Institute, Dallas International School, and various places of worship.
Nobody is affected more than the residents of Brittany Circle, a cul-de-sac with 16 lots just east of the Alcuin campus with Churchill as its only access point. A handful of them appealed to the Dallas Plan Commission, which heard the Alcuin case on Thursday.
“We have to deal with the traffic that has built up on Churchill,” said Jackson Wilson, a 20-year resident of the neighborhood. “Our concern is that we can’t get in and out of our house and that emergency vehicles cannot get to our homes. There needs to be something done to charge the dynamics of that street.”
After school officials met with traffic consultants and neighborhood groups, the school proposed some mitigation measures in place to ease some of those concerns.
Alcuin plans to limit the number of student drivers to 70, and they would only have access to the campus from certain entry points. The high school start times would be staggered so classes would begin and end 30 minutes later than other grades. And Alcuin will fund a private neighborhood patrol for 10 years at a cost of about $1 million.
“There’s been somewhat of a rocky history between the school and its neighbors, but I think most of that is behind it,” said Bruce Wilke, president of the Hillcrest Forest Neighborhood Association. “We think this would benefit both the school and the neighborhood.”
The negotiations have allowed Alcuin to slowly gain support for its reallocation plans from neighbors and plan commissioners, who voted unanimously to pass the school’s rezoning request on to the Dallas City Council.
“I believe that when all the agreements are signed, our neighborhood will be stronger and safer together,” said District 11 plan commissioner Jaynie Schultz.