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Board wants to improve walking safety
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Manteca Unified trustee Stephen Schluer doesn’t ever want to see another tragedy that happened near Shasta Elementary School repeated.

And he’s asking for parents, teachers, administrators and staff to come together to figure out the safest way for students to get back and forth to school on a daily basis – whether that means putting a stamp of approval on parents working as crossing guards or coming up with safe routes near campus that be utilized by the entire student body.

It was in late September when a 6-year-old girl on her way to school was struck and killed by a motorist while she was riding her bicycle across the street.

Since then a group of concerned parents have organized their own contingent of crossing guards to ensure that students walking across the street do so safely.

And even the community is getting behind the effort.

On Monday Manteca Ford owner Phil Waterford started a program that will give parents who wish to serve as crossing guards vests and stop signs that can be used for the purpose of ensuring overall safety.

The Board of Education last week agreed to form a committee consisting of three elected officials and representatives from the district and the schools to explore ways of providing students with the safest environment possible.

“The reason that I added this was because of the horrific accident that happened a couple of weeks ago where we lost a 6-year-old student from our district,” Schluer said. “I wanted to bring this forward to encourage conversation among the board and talk about policies that are in place and that we can put into place.

“I think that it’s important to have some type of community committee in place so that we can move forward and ensure safety.”

One of the things that the committee will discuss is whether the parental crossing guards need to be sanctioned by the district in order to remove liability that may current exist with them operating independent of traditional oversight.

Certain schools in the community use crossing guards near busy intersections while others rely on residential surface streets to keep traffic relatively slow.

Part of the issue rests not only with the drivers that are passing the students, but the students themselves – ensuring that proper safety is being adhered to by everybody and that those walking to or from school aren’t doing anything that could jeopardize their health or welfare.

Trustee Sam Fant said that he echoed Schluer’s sentiments and thinks that a committee to deal specifically with ensuring students safety is long overdue.