VEHICLE SAFETY ELEMENTS
Over the last school year, we have had considerable discussion about various elements of school safety. Within the schools and our buildings, we have paid attention to access, monitoring systems, processes and procedures. We have taken significant steps to improve safety within our facilities.
While those have been good and necessary steps, there are some other safety issues that are fairly simple to identify within our campuses, but are difficult to change. The reason they are difficult is because it involves behaviors, choices and habits people have developed or make without thinking about the issues. The issues are related to behaviors exhibited with vehicles on district properties.
Conditions have improved pretty dramatically since our first year of the current bus loading and unloading arrangements. As most district residents are aware, at the Cold Spring campus we use the parking lot between the secondary building and Cold Spring Elementary School as our bus unloading zone in the morning and loading zone in the afternoon.
Before school, beginning about 7:50 a.m., we have buses coming through the parking lot to drop off students for the school day. The buses are scheduled to drop secondary students first, and then they swing around the “island” to bring students to the elementary site. The process for unloading 23 buses is complete within about 20 minutes on a normal day.
At the end of the day, beginning about 2:40, buses move into the parking lot to prepare to take students home. Our school dismissal time is 3:00 and, in addition to buses, the students loading the buses fill the lot. Students are dismissed from both the elementary school and the elementary school. By 3:10, all students are on the buses and they begin to take students home.
In order to provide a safe zone for students, we ask parents, residents and visitors to stay out of the loading zone during these periods—especially with other vehicles. Traffic through the parking lot during these times, in pure and simple terms, is a safety hazard to everyone—but especially to our students. During the loading and unloading times, we need all other vehicles to stay out of these areas.
As I shared, conditions have dramatically improved in this area! When we first started the process, it was not uncommon to have as many as ten to fifteen vehicles drive through the area every time we were loading or unloading.
As we have opened the school year, many days traffic has been clear of these areas while on other days there is a random vehicle or two. Most often, those vehicles are visitors to our sites! We appreciate the assistance and cooperation demonstrated for the loading zones!
In Driver’s Training classes, a very simple rule is explained about signs, symbols and traffic indicators. If an area is identified with yellow, it means to exercise caution (yellow lights and yellow signs) or to stay out of the area (yellow lines and curb paint). As a school district, we follow that simple rule.
Our grounds and maintenance team has taken great care to apply this rule in painting traffic and parking areas across the district. We use yellow paint to identify the areas in which caution is to be exercised or in which parking is prohibited. Every yellow curb or area truly does mean that parking is prohibited in that space.
Some of the yellow areas are marked as such in order to allow better traffic movement. Some of the yellow areas are marked to ensure there is emergency access to the building sites. Some of the yellow areas are marked to ensure visibility for traffic, to observe pedestrians, or to ensure adequate space for vehicles to move around. Regardless of the reason, the yellow paint (at least on the ROCORI campus) consistently means that parking is prohibited.
We want to encourage students, staff, and visitors to our schools to observe and respect the caution zones and restricted areas of the district. We do not want to resort to it, but our recourse to violations of the zones is to have vehicles ticketed and/or towed away. It is our preference to simply have vehicles and drivers respect the zones but if that does not happen, we need to apply legal responses.
Safety and security are important elements anywhere but they are especially important in school settings. We have worked hard to improve and strengthen our safety measures throughout the school district.
One area in which we can continually improve is that of vehicle safety. By observing the bus loading zones and the yellow restricted parking zones across the district, we can help to ensure student and public safety.
I will continue this theme next week with some additional thoughts about vehicle safety concerns. If visitors to our campuses can remember pedestrian rights and apply common sense, we can definitely improve safety for our students.