As students return to school today, area law enforcement will be on hand to monitor traffic and help keep children safe.
Protecting schoolchildren from the time they step on the bus to the time they get off the bus is the top priority, Bell County Sheriff Eddy Lange said at a news conference last week.
“I can’t stress how important safety is,” Lange said. “The goal is to keep students safe.”
The most serious problem in school zones is people passing buses or vehicles.
Sheriff’s deputies and police officers will be especially vigilant in the new school year, and marked and unmarked cars will monitor school areas, said Lt. Donnie Adams, sheriff’s department spokesman.
“Red means red,” said Steven Stanfield of the Department of Public Safety. “If a light is blinking red, it means to come to a stop.”
The fines for passing school buses or ignoring speed limits range from $200 to $500, with extra fines for cellphone use in school zones. County and city officers said there is zero tolerance for ignoring regulations.
After a fatal crash involving a school bus near Little River-Academy last year, most school buses now have two stop signs so people just have to slow down, said Jackie Fields, with Belton ISD.
Stopping child predators
But traffic enforcement isn’t the only concern. Nolanville Police Chief Gary Kent said officers will be at school bus stops to monitor activity and to keep children safe from anyone who might have bad intentions.
His department teamed up with Killeen Independent School District for Parent Watch. Individuals will wear fluorescent yellow shirts representing a “safe place” for children to go on campus with concerns. “Every child should be able to grow up predator-free,” Kent said.
Volunteers are valuable in being the eyes and ears of students, said Julian Martinez of the Killeen Police Department. An abduction occurred two years ago and the community can help in preventing that from happening again, he said.
Harker Heights police Sgt. Roosevelt Wilson agrees. He said Heights police will be out to help make it safe for children to go to school and return home without parents’ fearing traffic problems or sex offenders.
Children in area schools return to classes today.
With the new school year, comes enforcement of school zones, so drivers should be aware of start and finish times at area schools.
High Schools: 8:40 a.m. to 4:05 p.m.
Middle Schools: 8 a.m. to 3:35 p.m.
8 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. at Cedar Valley, Clarke, Clear Creek, Clifton Park, Duncan, Fowler, Harker Heights, Hay Branch, Pershing Park, Timber Ridge, Venable Village and Willow Springs.
8:30 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. for East Ward and Saegert.
7:30 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. for all other elementary schools.
Copperas Cove ISD
High School: 8:40 a.m. to 4:05 p.m.
Junior High SchoolS: 8:10 a.m. to 3:45 p.m.
Elementary SchoolS: 7:45 a.m. to 3:15 p.m.