By DAVID GREEN
Whenever Morenci Elementary School dean of students Mary Fisher sees a child nearly get hit by a car in the school’s front circle drive, she knows she has to continue working with parents about safety rules.
Fisher knows she’s made strides and most parents are abiding by rules, but not everyone is paying attention.
“It’s been a real issue for us,” she said. “We’re just trying to do the best we can do to keep our kids safe.”
Changes haven’t come easily. At one time in the past, parents volunteered to direct traffic and keep cars out of the circle drive in the afternoon. They were sometimes met with verbal abuse.
“Convenience has to take second place to safety,” said Morenci Chief of Police Larry Weeks, who has helped with the issue.
The situation can become very chaotic—particularly in the afternoon—and patience is needed, Chief Weeks added.
Fisher has issued separate instructions for morning and afternoon traffic.
A.M.—When dropping off a child in heavy traffic, advance past the school toward the end of the drive before stopping. This will allow additional cars to enter the drive and avoid a traffic backup into Locust Street.
If a parent needs to go into the school, the vehicle should be parked in a parking spot rather than blocking traffic in the drive.
The newer parking area on the west end of the school can also be used.
P.M.—The circle drive is blocked in the afternoon with traffic cones, but Fisher has seen some drivers work their way around them. One day she watched a vehicle back into the drive.
Fisher prefers that cars line up along Page Street to pick up children or use the parking lot on the west end.
Some parents park on Locust Street in front of the school. When that’s done, she urges parents to park in the lane closest to the school so children don’t have to “J-walk” across traffic.
Some parents park a block away on Burley Street to avoid the heavy traffic near the school.
When the school was constructed in the 1950s, most students who lived in town walked to school and the size of the front drive wasn’t an issue.
That brings to mind one other solution to the traffic problem.
“Parents could let them walk to school,” Fisher said.