Schools haven’t been the only ones saying goodbye to summer break and preparing for the new school year. The City of Southlake has been gearing up too! Back to school means more traffic and more sharing of the road.
With the increase in traffic as school starts again, be sure to give yourself more time to travel. Traffic congestion will pick up as more parents and school buses are delivering students to school. And don’t forget about all the excited new drivers, driving to school for the first time. Ten extra minutes can go a long way during your commute.
“Students are not the only ones who have to rethink their priorities when school starts,” notes Southlake Transportation Manager Stephanie Taylor. “This time of year is a great reminder that getting somewhere safely is more important than getting somewhere quickly. A child’s life is worth far more than cutting down your commute. Slow down and stay alert.”
Safety is a top priority in Southlake. As part of the City’s back to school efforts, Southlake Public Works checks school zones every year before the start of the new school year. School zone flashers and crosswalks are inspected to make sure they are in good condition for students.
This year, four CISD schools had crosswalks restriped and signs updated: Carroll High School, Rockenbaugh Elementary, Carroll Elementary and Old Union Elementary Schools.
Several roadway updates over the summer will also help with the increased traffic as school starts again. Portions of Continental Boulevard were resurfaced, and the Kirkwood Boulevard improvements added more traffic lanes, sidewalks and traffic signals on the north end of Southlake. The North White Chapel widening project moved along on schedule over the summer as well. While work on North White Chapel will continue throughout the school year, the hours of possible construction lane closures will take place between 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. to avoid school arrival and dismissal traffic.
Roadway improvements will help with commutes, but Taylor encourages motorists to take an active role in ensuring safe travel.
“With more motorists, pedestrians and cyclists on the road, all of us have to step it up when it comes to traffic safety,” says Taylor. “Back-to-school traffic means we all have to be more patient and pay more attention.”
The City offers several ways to stay connected to mobility in Southlake. Follow Southlake Mobility on Facebook and check out the ConnectSouthlake.com site for traffic, construction updates and all things mobility.
Three months after the horrific school shooting in Newtown Connecticut, a task force focused on school security and student well-being has recommended placing School Resource Police Officers (SROs) at every Southlake public school. The goal is to have the officers in place by the beginning of the 2013-2014 school year.
On March 19th, task force member and Southlake Police Chief Steve Mylett made the recommendation to the City Council explaining the plan’s history and importance.
“The goals of the SRO program include enhancing security on all Southlake public school campuses, reducing community fear regarding child safety, and reducing the likelihood of drug and alcohol use,” said Chief Mylett.
He also explained that under the current program, a full time School Resource Officer is stationed at Carroll Senior High School, with another one assigned at Carroll High School. A third officer splits time between the City’s two middle schools: Dawson and Carroll. The Task Force recommendation expands the program from three employees to 13 employees to cover an additional eight schools including Florence Elementary which is part of Keller Independent School District.
At the March 19th meeting, Mayor John Terrell told the audience that he sees the expanded program as a long-term investment. He stated later: “As with any long-term commitment, this program will evolve and we will modify it as we believe is necessary so that it will continually improve. What’s important is that this investment is constantly nurtured by its stakeholders so it becomes and remains a program of excellence which benefits Southlake’s families and the community.”
All of the money for the expanded program will come from the Crime Control Prevention District, the half-cent sales tax that was approved by voters to support the City’s safety and security initiatives. The board, which has fiduciary responsibility over the fund, approved the task force’s recommendation at their meeting on March 5th. The City will move forward this summer with making the necessary budget adjustments.
The Task Force was assembled shortly after the shootings in Newtown Connecticut where 26 people lost their lives after a shooter entered the Sandy Hook Elementary school and opened fire. The group researched and held meetings to determine the appropriate recommendation for an enhanced SRO presence for Southlake schools. It is composed of law enforcement experts, community leaders from both the City and Carroll ISD, and faith based leaders.
“We appreciate the cooperative partnership between the City of Southlake and Carroll ISD, especially on the topic of school safety,” said Read Ballew, School Board President and a member of the Mayor’s Task Force. “The group was quick but thorough in making a recommendation. Safety is a top priority for all of us, but the city’s expansion of the SRO program allows Carroll ISD to concentrate on our main focus of educating students.’
Superintendent David Faltys said the existing SRO program provides students, staff and parents with the opportunity to build strong relationships with local law enforcement officers. “The city’s efforts to help keep our schools safer also provide us with a great opportunity to utilize the expertise of these officers to positively impact the lives of students. We look forward to working with Chief Steve Mylett to find just the right individuals to fill these positions.”
City staff will now move forward with the necessary steps to seek out and hire qualified officers to staff the enhanced program. All SRO officers are required to go through 40 hours of specialized training that will focus on the specific safety and security needs of public schools and the children who attend them.