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Patrols upped around school

Alissa Widman Neese • Aug 27, 2014 at 2:41 PM

Different year, different school building, similar problems.

Atkinson Elementary School is the latest Fremont Schools building to incite reports of nearby reckless drivers and congested traffic at drop-off and pick-up times, according to a Fremont police report from Nov. 26.

At least one person has voiced concerns about student safety to the district’s safety services director, Fremont police Chief Tim Wiersma said.

When police patrolled the area this past week at dismissal time, however, traffic flow appeared normal.

“It’s not out of the ordinary for people to call with complaints, but at times increased police presence takes care of the situation,” Wiersma said.

In years past, other district buildings have also been targeted as problem areas, he said.

Several years ago, Stamm Elementary School rerouted its surrounding traffic patterns to remedy congestion issues. More recently, Otis Elementary School implemented similar changes to improve parking for buses and cars.    

“This is just another school in the series,” Wiersma said. “Right now, our focus is on Atkinson, but hopefully police presence will do it. We’ll be checking on it more often”

Traffic-related issues aren’t unique to Fremont Schools.

As more parents choose to drive their children to-and-from school instead of using buses, increased traffic is becoming a problem for many area districts.

A possible solution: Safe Routes to School, a state-funded initiative striving to create safer pathways for students and parents to walk or bike to-and-from area school buildings. The goal is to decrease the number of parent drivers, while also encouraging healthy exercise.

Fremont Schools submitted a grant proposal to the program this past year, superintendent Tracy McCaudi said.

District officials and a newly formed committee are now working with the Ohio Department of Transportation to gather information and develop plans, McCaudi said.

“Hopefully, by next year, we’ll be awarded monies for some infrastructures enhancements throughout the district,” McCaudi said. “That could include sidewalks, crosswalks, signage or other things suggested by the committee or the transportation department”

The Nov. 26 police report was the only documented incident involving Atkinson Elementary School this school year, a Fremont police records clerk said.

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