District 9 Councilman Joe Krier hosted a School Zone Safety Public Meeting on May 5 that included San Antonio Police Chief William McManus; NEISD Superintendent Dr. Brian Gottardy; the City’s Transportation & Capital Improvements Department (TCI) Director Mike Frisbie; and Gina Babineaux, the mother of Tatyana Babineaux. Tatyana was the victim of a tragic pedestrian death while walking to school on Jan. 15, 2014.
Concerned parents gathered at the Piper Bass Memorial Student Center to voice safety concerns about their school zones to key leaders. Councilman Krier said that in light of the improvements the panel members jointly initiated for the Larkspur Elementary School Zone in February after the death of Tatyana, he initiated the meeting to find out if there are other safety concerns in other school zones across District 9 that should be addressed.
A study by the NEISD found that more than 40 percent of students walk to or from school on a daily basis. Chief McManus showed one of SAPD’s Walk Safe public service announcements depicting a father grieving after the loss of his daughter who crossed a busy highway on her walk to school and reiterated pedestrian safety tips especially while in a school zone. Chief McManus warned drivers to be hyper aware while driving in school zones.
Babineaux said she wanted to attend the meeting to let people know that she is a real person who lost her daughter, not just a statistic, and has to deal with that grief every day. She hopes that her attendance, coupled with the panel’s message, will help spread the desire to make San Antonio children safer in other school zones besides Larkspur without a tragic accident and loss like she has had to endure. Councilman Krier urged all parents to talk to their children about pedestrian safety as they would the dangers of talking to strangers.
“It is a real threat that they face each and every day, sometimes twice a day,” Councilman Krier said.
Each of the panel participants gave a brief overview of their respective areas of discussion and answered questions from the crowd. Frisbie said that while the existing school zone infrastructure was not a contributing factor in Tatyana’s accident, he was proud of the upgrades TCI was able to make to improve vehicular and pedestrian safety(see attached slides), partly due to funding from Councilman Krier’s discretionary fund. Dr. Gottardy also highlighted a pilot program that NEISD participated in with other school districts where school buses were equipped with video cameras to track and audit how many people passed a stopped school bus. He said that in one day, the cameras tracked 750 vehicles that passed the stopped school buses, some of them on the right side which is the school bus loading side.
Some of the issues that were discussed by concerned residents in attendance at the meeting included the desire to ticket violators who pass stopped school buses when/if the bus cams are installed on all NEISD buses, the need for signage in school zones that show a visual representation of the “no cell phone use” law, more volunteer crossing guards, and more educational programs of children on how they can better protect themselves on the way to and from school.
Attendees who did not publicly voice their issue were also encouraged to fill out School Zone Safety comment cards for the panel to follow-up on. Councilman Krier also provided a City Budget Input Box at the event to capture other District 9 budget priorities, in addition to schools, as the City Council begins its budget process in May. Residents in San Antonio’s North Central Area (including District 9) can attend the City’s North Central area budget workshop on Tuesday, May 20, 2014 at 6:30 p.m. at the University United Methodist Church, 5084 De Zavala Rd. Contact Councilman Krier’s office at email@example.com, “Attention: School Zones,” for more information or to provide feedback on School Zone Safety in District 9.
For more information on providing Fiscal Year 2015 Budget input, visit sanantonio.gov/budget.