Dangerous driving conditions around Bert Raney Elementary has raised concern for safety for students walking to school.
Mary Grey is in charge of School Patrol, a program that is student-involved that ensures safe crossing for other students across 7th Avenue. From a pool of 30 fourth and fifth graders, several students help guide peers and families on their way to and from school.
But recently, cars have been speeding through the intersection despite a student standing in the middle of the crosswalk with a vibrant orange flag.
“It is hard to call a parent whose child was out on that road and tell them ‘I just need to let you know that we had somebody run through the crosswalk,’” Grey said.
Despite newsletters and direct mailing to parents, the problem with inattentive driving doesn’t seem to be slowing down. On multiple occasions, Grey has had to call in license plate numbers to the police, as it is a reportable crime.
“Many schools have a designated school route or they are able to close down those areas during specific times of the day,” BRE Principal Melissa Hesch said. “We have through roads, so doing that is not a possibility at this point.”
The School Patrol is active between roughly 7:45 to 8:10 in the morning, and 2:55 to 3:10 in the afternoon. Hesch pointed out that it only comprises an hour out of the day to avoid driving near the school.
As winter approaches, concern for safety also increases. Although Grey instructs the student helpers not to step out until “the wheels have stopped” during inclement weather, the combination of ice and reckless driving is not something that Grey and Hesch want to leave up to chance.
“We certainly don’t want to discourage people from walking or biking to school, we just want them to do it safely,” Hesch said.
If the situation doesn’t improve, the option for speed bumps to be installed will be pursued. At the risk of spending taxpayer money, Grey urged an easier solution.
“I am begging the community that if they have no reason to be around the school during pick up times that need to go to the KCC or elsewhere ... to please use an alternate route to get there,” Grey said. “If they were to do that it would be much safer.”