By Christie Post - email
LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) – The time change over the weekend isn't the only issue we're hearing about with some Lubbock school zones. Parents who have contacted KCBD NewsChannel 11 are concerned, not just about the lights, but the lack of a marked school zone in some parts of town. And now an accident last week near Ramirez Charter School has brought even more attention to the issue.
The accident happened Wednesday afternoon at the Ramirez Charter School. EMS took one child to the hospital with minor injuries. In the area there's no school zone signs posted at Ramirez and like several other schools, they haven't had them for years.
"I have no idea to tell you the truth, that's just the question on everybody's mind right now," says concerned Ramirez parent, Carlos Hernandez.
Ramirez Charter School is one of Lubbock ISD's 56 campuses, but according to the city there are only 48 marked school zones in LISD and some campuses have multiple zones.
"For a school zone to be enforced, there must be a sign and the flashing lights," says LISD Chief of Police, Mark Hinshaw.
Since Ramirez does not have a marked school zone, parents like Wesley Williamson who has a daughter that attends the school is concerned. "We have to walk across the street. It's not always so bad. But as you can tell here it gets a little crazy because they're not exactly the most considerate drivers around here. So it gets a little dangerous," says concerned Ramirez parent, Wesley Williamson.
"As soon as they make a right, they're not even paying attention. I actually saw some kids almost get hit the other day. The guy had to brake really hard," says Hernandez.
"I just wish they would do something about it. Even painting cross walks. Not necessarily a cross walk guard, but crosswalks or anything to get people to open their eyes and slow down cause it could be their kid that gets hit," says Williamson.
And these concerns became even more real just moments after we interviewed concerned parents at Ramirez, a elementary student was hit by a car. Police report that a Ramirez student ran into the street and was hit by a car headed west on Glenna Goodacre who couldn't stop in time. The six-year-old went to the hospital with minor injuries. Before the accident though, LISD Police say they'd already been working on the no school zone issue.
"We have been in communication at Ramirez as well as some of the parts of the community in regards to concerns they have about traffic safety," says City of Lubbock traffic engineer, Sharmon Owens.
But it's actually the City of Lubbock that decides which school needs a school zone.
"We did let Chief Hinshaw know that we did not have that number of children crossing Glenn Goodacre Boulevard near Ramirez," says Owens.
To determine which areas need one, the city does a count. They require an average of ten students to cross a roadway without a parent, counting six different times. It's a policy the city put in place so drivers don't get used to speeding through school zones when students aren't present.
"If it's an arterial like one of the major streets. Slide road, 4th street, some of those that are seven lane thoroughfares the school zone needs to be at a signalized intersection," says Owens.
Ramirez is not the only campus that's sparked concern. Coronado High School has a school zone, but during lunch some students don't use the crosswalks, and the flashers aren't timed correctly.
"I go there every single day and everyday. And everyday the lights are flashing and there's nobody outside," says concerned driver, Michael Klienstub, "And we'll come back an hour later and there's tons of kids walking around through the streets crossing the streets unattended and there's no flashing lights."
In fact the city says the lights are actually set to last year's schedule, so the timing is off by up to 30 minutes.
"We got the signs almost ready. But the flashing times won't be ready until the signs will be installed probably next week or the week after," says Owens.
The city says they strive for the safety of children to come first. LISD says they will meet with city officials Tuesday about the concern of the lack of a school zone at the Ramirez Charter School to find a solution.
But sometimes it's out of their control. Because of glitches in the city's pager system, the school zone flashing lights were not on schedule earlier Monday morning.
Flashing lights in school zones turned on and off early in many areas causing drivers to watch out for students heading to school. LISD says they got a message from the city saying they had an issue with their pager system to cause some of the school zone flashing lights not function correctly.
"There was a pager service that had gone down. So our page to our school zones did not go out like it was supposed to," says Reed.
The city says normally the lights are timed to come on anywhere between 45 minutes to an hour before school starts, but this did not happen this morning. The lights were delayed from daylight saving time leaving drivers without a warning when students were around. City officials says the pager system has been fixed making the flashing lights turn on at the correct time.
"Sometimes it just takes a few minutes to figure out what happened. and sometimes things just happen and it's out of your control. It's done and everybody should be back in business," says Reed.
Copyright 2010 KCBD. All rights reserved.