By Casey Peacock: PNT Staff Writer
It’s time once again to watch out for the flashing lights in area school zones as the school year kicks off.
Following the death of a James Elementary student the first week of school near her home on a rural highway, school officials are reiterating safety but believe their programs are working well.
According to Randy Fowler, Portales Schools Superintendent, the school has various safety measures in place. Each school has designated areas for buses and parents to park and personnel on duty to watch the students.There are also marked school zones with flashing lights and crosswalks. Just before school, the city repainted the crosswalks, said Fowler.
“These are the main things that we have in place. We have not had any problems with our crossing areas,” Fowler said.
Officers from the Portales Police department have been assigned to patrol the school zones, especially those that are in high traffic areas, said Capt. Lonnie Berry, Portales Police Department.
“We’re writing tickets, it’s well enough into the school year and the school zones are well marked,” Berry said.
Parents have been complying with the designated pick-up and drop-off zones that are furnished by the schools. Teachers are also out helping to get the kids safely across the crosswalks and out of traffic, Berry said.
Kids get excited and don’t watch where they are going. It’s important for drivers to obey the 15 mph school zones, and keep speeds down.This allows drivers more reaction time if something were to happen, said Berry.
“The safety of the school zone is important. You have to expect the unexpected.” Berry said.
Becky Flen, Steiner Elementary School principal, has taken the whole school out on a walking fieldtrip to the fair for the past two years. With help from the police department, Flen said they are able to safely get the students there and back.
The police department comes out and blocks traffic along the route, as the students, teachers and volunteers make their way to the fairgrounds. Without their help, the school would not be able to go on the fieldtrip, the principal said.
“The kids love it, it’s something out of the ordinary,” Flen said.
Rules are strictly enforced on the outing. The students have a partner they walk with, they have to stay in line, not lag behind, listen and not run into the street, said Flen.
“The rules are very strict to remind the student’s to be safe,” said Flen.