Spokane Valley educators and the Spokane County Sheriff’s Department are working together to remind drivers to drive safely when school classes start this week.
About 20,000 students will be going back to school next Wednesday in the Central Valley, West Valley and East Valley districts. Classes started on Tuesday in Freeman schools.
Educators are urging motorists to stop for school buses when their stop sign is out and lights are flashing as they load and unload students. They are also asking drivers to leave a little early to avoid rushing through the 20 mph school zones.
“It takes a little while for people to get back into that mode to remember,” said Sgt. Chris Powell, a Washington State Patrol spokesman. “Especially when the weather is warmer, it kind of throws them for a loop.”
WSP troopers will assist sheriff’s deputies to pay extra attention to traffic as school gets back into session.
Deputies held a school zone awareness demonstration on Aug. 23, in front of Progress Elementary to get drivers back into the habit of slowing down around schools after the summer break.
“It does create an awareness,” said Skip Bonuccelli, Central Valley School District spokesman. “It’s got to. We can’t take a chance on losing our young people.”
The intersection of Eighth and McDonald has been a past area of concern in the Central Valley School district, Bonuccelli said. The intersection, which is only blocks from Keystone Elementary, was the site of several accidents - including two fatalities - over the last year. It is expected to be safer this year after county engineers made it a four-way stop over the summer.
Another four-way stop added at Harvard and Wellesley has helped slow drivers in that area. However, the Argonne Road detour has sent more drivers down Pines Road and past Trent Elementary, said East Valley Superintendent Chuck Stocker.
Joe Dawson, director of transportation for the West Valley School District, traffic near Pasadena Park Elementary and Seth Woodard Elementary are particular areas of concern.
, DataTimes MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: Construction woes Fourth Avenue and Sixth Avenue will both be closed between Pines and Bowdish for two weeks due to sewer construction, altering bus routes for Opportunity Elementary students. Students in kindergarten through second grade who normally catch the bus at Fourth and Union should instead meet the bus at Fourth and Pierce at 8:05 a.m. during the closure.