Thursday, August 11, 2011

TOP STORY > >ABC’s of back to school safety

By: Airman 1st Class Regina Agoha
19 Airlift Wing Public Affairs

August marks the start of the end of summer for school-aged children. Parents and those who drive past Arnold Drive Elementary and the newly opening Jacksonville Lighthouse Charter School Flightline Upper Academy, are to be mindful that Monday, school begins and road rules for child safety will be strongly enforced.

Cefus Benner, 19th Security Forces Squadron police services, said that most of the road rules will be the same for both schools.

School zone safety lights will begin flashing promptly the first day of school near Arnold Drive Elementary from 7:25 - 8:15 a.m., and it will start again 2:30 - 3:15 p.m. for school dismissal, Benner said.

“Only traffic coming westbound on Arnold Drive can turn directly into Arnold Drive Elementary school parking lot for picking up or dropping off students,” he said. There are signs posted to inform drivers that no left turns between school hours are allowed.

Evan McGrew, principal of JCLS Flightline Upper Academy, said although school zone lights will soon be in place, it will not be on the first day of school, but SFS Airmen will be on Arnold Drive monitoring speed.

There is a 15-mph speed zone near the school, and there is no tolerance in that area for speeding, Benner said. SFS Airmen will be there to strictly enforce it, and they will catch those exceeding the speed limit, even by one mph, he said. To help deter speeding, a speeding cart will be placed near the school for drivers to monitor their own speed, said Benner. Once the flashing lights turn off, the speed limit is back to its normal 35 mph.

For the Flightline Upper Academy, drivers can turn into the school from any direction, said McGrew. School begins at 7:15 a.m. and is dismissed at 3:45 p.m. For morning drop off, drivers on Arnold Drive should turn on Cannon Circle intothe one-way entrance of the school and leave through the exit past Razorback Inn, he said.

Fifth and sixth graders at the Flightline Upper Academy will be picked up by in the same manner they were dropped off. Seventh and eighth graders will be picked up from the back of the school to ease the flow of traffic during pick-up hours, said McGrew. For safety, homeroom teachers will be with the scholars until they are all picked up and traffic will be directed, as well.

Benner said there is a crosswalk near Arnold Drive Elementary, and there will be a crossing guard there dressed in a reflective vest and holding a stop sign to control the flow of traffic.

Scholars who will be walking to the Flightline Upper Academy in the mornings and after school are advised to use the sidewalk in order to get to school safely, said McGrew.

Benner said drivers need to adhere to the crossing guard and slow down as well as be extra observant of their surroundings while in the school zones because children may disregard the cross walks and run into the street.

“Children are our future, and nothing affects a community worse than to lose a child. You can not be in that big of a hurry to where slowing down to 15 mph for 200 yards is going to kill you. If you are in that much of a hurry, then you need to leave earlier. The biggest issue of course, is the child’s safety,” said Benner.

Arnold Drive Elementary and JCLS Flightline Upper Academy are both public schools. Arnold Drive Elementary teaches students from kindergarten to fifth grade. JCLS Flightline Upper Academy educates fifth to eighth graders.

The new JCLS Flightline Upper Academy is a publicly funded charter school that operates outside of the control of a local school district but is still held to the state’s academic standards by the state’s board of education.

School crossing guards are needed at Arnold Drive Elementary from 2:30 - 3 p.m. To volunteer, call Julia Noe, Airman and Family Readiness Center community readiness consultant, at 987-6801.

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