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School District to address bus stop safety

By Staff | Apr 11, 2019

The School District of Lee County along with local municipalities and law enforcement agencies are working to better improve the safety of area bus stops – and they need your help.

A Town Hall Meeting will be held from 6 – 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 16, in the Board Room of the Lee County Public Education Center to discuss better practices for students who venture to the bus stop each day.

This meeting comes in the wake of the death of an 8-year-old Cape Coral girl, Layla Aiken, who died after she was struck by a hit-and-run driver while waiting for the bus in late March.

“Keeping our students, staff, and schools safe is of highest priority and the responsibility of everyone in our community, including the District,” Superintendent Dr. Greg Adkins said in a statement. “We are thankful for our partnerships with law enforcement and local governments in this endeavor and thank the community for its ongoing support to make our schools and students as safe as possible.”

Earlier this week, a teen in Cape Coral was struck in the head by a vehicle’s passenger side mirror while crossing a crosswalk on his way to the bus stop.

The driver stopped.

The police report said “no citations were issued as it is extremely difficult to see pedestrians in the crosswalk due to the lack of lighting in the area.”

The youth was not taken to the hospital, per the request of his father, but did sustain facial injuries, said the report. The boy did not recall the accident after he was struck and was not sure what happened, the report also stated.

In January, Alana Tamplin, 12, died after she was struck by a vehicle while walking along the edge of Durrance Road in North Fort Myers. She was fatally injured as she walked home after making sure her younger sister got to her bus stop safely.

There are no sidewalks, or adequate lighting, on that road.

Poorly lit areas where children walk to the bus stop each day at an early hour is one of the issues this Town Hall Meeting will try to address.

“As a community we need to work together to make our roads and streets safer, not just for students, but for all pedestrians and bikers. We plan to be a leader in that endeavor,” said Adkins.

Lee County residents will be able to follow along live from home as well via the school district’s Facebook page or YouTube channel.

An email address, Busstopsafety@leeschools.net, has been set up for community members who feel they may have a favorable idea to help combat the issue, or wish to have their voice herd as they are unable to attend the meeting.

This email will be monitored prior to the meeting by “several departments” so that they can get through what they expect to be a large volume of recommendations and make sure all input is taken into consideration.

“We are always looking for ways to engage with our community and we were planning a Town Hall Meeting on the same night for a different subject. With the outpouring of concern and suggestions for bus stop safety it made sense to change the focus and create a single forum for all ideas to be heard,” said school district spokesperson, Rob Spicker.

This Town Hall Meeting is just one way the school district is trying to spread the word about awareness and transportation safety.

“We have established safety information on our webpage and added a new page to our school safety section to include even more safety tips and videos,” said Spicker. “The new information was provided to our schools, teachers and staff so they could share the information with their students. The Superintendent sent parents a letter to let them know where to find this information and invited them to the town hall. We have held meetings with Cape Coral City officials and are in contact with Fort Myers and Lee County for similar conversations.”

Some of the safety tips on the website include:

* Leave home early enough to arrive at your bus stop on time.

* Wear bright clothing and always walk facing traffic.

* Wait for your bus in a safe place – well off the roadway.

* Never stand, sit or play in or near the street.

* Enter your bus in an orderly manner, and take your seat.

* Follow the instructions of your bus driver.

* Remain in your seat while the bus is in motion.

* Keep your head and arms inside the bus at all times.

* Keep aisles clear at all times.

* Remain quiet and orderly.

* Be courteous to your school bus driver and fellow passengers.

* Be alert to traffic when leaving the bus.

For more information on school bus safety featuring more tips and videos, visit www.leeschools.net.

The event is open to the public.

The Lee County Public Education Center is at 2855 Colonial Boulevard in Fort Myers.

-Connect with this reporter on Twitter: @haddad_cj