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Hold the phone

Moran Prairie Elementary Principal Matthew Handelman stands outside his school in rain, sun, sleet and snow to watch parents drive through the congested parking lot.

He is one of several area educators who believe that cell phones and driving don’t mix, at least not in school parking lots, which can be full of fast-moving children.

In a “calling all cell users,” newsletter item, Handelman has asked parents to turn off their phones as they drive through the parking lot. “When people are driving with a hand-held telephone, they can only have one hand on the wheel,” Handelman said. “They can only pay attention to so many things at once.”

Handelman’s not alone in worrying about students who can suddenly run out into a parking lot to show their parents their latest A on a spelling test, said Bonnie Bantis, principal at Arcadia Elementary in the Deer Park School District.

During the first months of school, she’ll stand in the parking lot and ask parents to shut off their phones. As she sees it, child safety requires 100 percent of a parent’s attention.

At Coeur d’Alene’s Bryan Elementary School, the principal doesn’t go out to the drivers. He brings the drivers into the school.

Every year, at Back to School Night, Joel Palmer shows parents a PowerPoint presentation on drop-off and pickup procedures. It explains how staffers walk each student in turn to their car and the pathway for students who walk to school.

This system is a way of “managing a mass exodus in the most safe way,” said Palmer.

Skyway Elementary Principal Pam Pratt is also grappling with the problem.

“So many of our parents are on cell phones,” said Pratt. “It’s a real safety issue.”

The readerboard outside the Coeur d’Alene school urges drivers to: watch for kids, drive safely, please don’t use cell phones.

Some staffers who supervise the morning and afternoon traffic have started making hand motions asking drivers to hang up their phones while at the school.

A few drivers, however, seem hooked on their cell phones. On a routine pickup Friday at Moran Prairie, some parents still kept phones to their ears. One parent, Jen Evans, a nurse, asked her friend on the other end of a cell phone to hold on while she talked about the issue.

“I think I’m an adult capable of making my own decisions,” Evans said. “I think sometimes the school can tend to treat the adults like children. It’s not appreciated.”

Other parents, like Jennifer Miley, said they shut off their phone in the parking lot.

The little kid in her still kind of fears the principal and the Rockwood Clinic administrator said she wants to do the right thing.

“It is a good idea. I support him,” Miley said.

Traffic congestion caused by population increases is contributing to the problem, educators at Spokane Valley schools say.

“Our schools are just not designed to have the number of vehicles that are coming and going every day,” said Kelly Shea, principal at McDonald Elementary School in the Valley.

“Driving on the road using a cell phone, putting on makeup or playing with the radio, all of those things are distracters and because of the close proximity of children and the congestion it would be great if they were not talking on the cell phones,” Shea said.

Nine Mile Falls Elementary has a surefire way to avoid the cell phone temptation. It’s all about location.

“We’re in a hole where there’s hardly a cell phone that works at all,” said Len Mortlock, principal at Nine Mile Falls Elementary. “I don’t have much problem with parents and cell phones.”

In a “calling all cell users,” newsletter item, Handelman has asked parents to turn off their phones as they drive through the parking lot. “When people are driving with a hand-held telephone, they can only have one hand on the wheel,” Handelman said. “They can only pay attention to so many things at once.”

Handelman’s not alone in worrying about students who can suddenly run out into a parking lot to show their parents their latest A on a spelling test, said Bonnie Bantis, principal at Arcadia Elementary in the Deer Park School District.

During the first months of school, she’ll stand in the parking lot and ask parents to shut off their phones. As she sees it, child safety requires 100 percent of a parent’s attention.

At Coeur d’Alene’s Bryan Elementary School, the principal doesn’t go out to the drivers. He brings the drivers into the school.

Every year, at Back to School Night, Joel Palmer shows parents a PowerPoint presentation on drop-off and pickup procedures. It explains how staffers walk each student in turn to their car and the pathway for students who walk to school.

This system is a way of “managing a mass exodus in the most safe way,” said Palmer.

Skyway Elementary Pam Pratt is also grappling with the problem.

“So many of our parents are on cell phones,” said Pratt. “It’s a real safety issue.”

The readerboard outside the Coeur d’Alene school urges drivers to: watch for kids, drive safely, please don’t use cell phones.

Some staffers who supervise the morning and afternoon traffic have started making hand motions asking drivers to hang up their phones while at the school.

A few drivers, however, seem hooked on their cell phones. On a routine pickup Friday at Moran Prairie, some parents still kept phones to their ears. One mother refused to stop talking on the phone and roll down her window to speak with a reporter. Another parent, Jen Evans, a nurse, asked her friend on the other end of a cell phone to hold on while she talked about the issue.

“I think I’m an adult capable of making my own decisions,” Evans said. “I think sometimes the school can tend to treat the adults like children. It’s not appreciated.”

Other parents, like Jennifer Miley, said they shut off their phone in the parking lot.

The little kid in her still kind of fears the principal and the Rockwood Clinic administrator said she wants to do the right thing.

“It is a good idea. I support him,” Miley said.

Traffic congestion caused by population increases is contributing to the problem, educators at Spokane Valley schools say.

“Our schools are just not designed to have the number of vehicles that are coming and going every day,” said Kelly Shea, principal at McDonald Elementary School in the Valley.

“Driving on the road using a cell phone, putting on makeup or playing with the radio, all of those things are distracters and because of the close proximity of children and the congestion it would great if they were not talking on the cell phones,” Shea said.

Nine Mile Falls Elementary has a surefire way to avoid the cell phone temptation. It’s all about location.

“We’re in a hole where there’s hardly a cell phone that works at all,” said Len Mortlock, principal at Nine Mile Falls Elementary. “I don’t have much problem with parents and cell phones.”



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