San Francisco city officials ushered in the first day of the 2015-16 school year today by ensuring that classrooms and crosswalks are adequately staffed.
San Francisco Unified School District Superintendent Richard Carranza said in a statement released today that over 375 classroom teachers were hired for the new school year.
“Given that we are in the midst of a statewide and national teacher shortage, an upward trending economy, and a retirement bubble, I am incredibly proud of what we have accomplished,” Carranza said.
While the school district was busy recruiting enough teachers in time for the new school year, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency was busy ramping up its School Crossing Guard Program.
Today, 26 new school crossing guards completed their first day in the School Crossing Guard Program, bringing the total to 193 crossing guards staffing 187 corners at 95 schools citywide, according to the SFMTA.
Nicole Ferrara, executive director of the pedestrian advocacy group, WALK San Francisco, said that walking and biking to school should be a fun way to get physical activity during the day, and allow students to come to school focused and ready to learn.
“However, traffic safety concerns are the top reason why SF parents choose not to walk or roll with their kids,” Ferrara said.
She said in 2012 the city created 15 mph speed limits surrounding all schools but that enforcement “in school zones is key to making sure families feel safe walking and rolling to school.”
The SFMTA and the San Francisco Police Department have been working together to ensure that children attending San Francisco public schools get to class safely and that drivers are slowing down near schools.
Ten schools located in close proximity to documented speeding issues and high-injury corridors, are receiving enhanced traffic enforcement for this entire week, in addition to its existing traffic enforcement efforts.
“Drivers need to be more aware of traveling at safe and appropriate speeds, especially near schools where children learn and play,” San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee said.
Beginning today and as part of the city’s Vision Zero goal to eliminate all traffic deaths by 2024, San Francisco police are increasing enforcement near Bessie Carmichael Elementary, Archbishop Riordan High School, KIPP SF Bay Academy, Creative Arts Charter School, George Washington High School, Ecole Notre Dame des Victoires, Edison Charter Academy, James Lick Middle School, West Portal Elementary and Thurgood Marshall High School.
“Research shows that children often lack the cognitive and decision making skills to adequately judge the speed and distance of motor vehicles,” said San Francisco police Chief Greg Suhr. “As we enforce the speed limit at school zones citywide, we want people driving to think about their responsibilities as they operate a 4,000 pound vehicle around our kids.”
The SFMTA has also placed seven, large electronic messaging signs around San Francisco to remind drivers to slow down and expect children and families to be on the streets and back at school.
Cheryl Brinkman, the vice-chairman of the SFMTA board of directors said in a statement released today that speed is the leading cause of severe and fatal traffic injuries in San Francisco and that motor vehicle crashes remain the leading cause of death among young children in the country.
“Our message is a simple one. School is back in session. Please slow down. You could save a child’s life,” Brinkman said.
Hannah Albarazi, Bay City News