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Letter to the Editor: PLEASE Stop When You See a School Bus with Flashers On!

The views stated here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the editors of this newspaper. Received Jan. 12, 2021.
My desperate plea to the community—please stop when you see a bus with the flashers on!  The children in my neighborhood cul-de-sac currently wait for and exit the school bus off of Hwy 81.  It is a common occurrence for cars to pass through the bus stop sign, even with the flashers illuminated…many of these incidents have been recorded on video and witness statements provided to the schools and Student Transportation Authority.  These drivers have caused many close calls but luckily there has not been an accident yet.
The families in my neighborhood have filed petitions, notified the principals and STA (bus company), requested a transportation hearing board with R17 School Board and filed an appeal with the CT State School Board to have our bus stop changed from off of Hwy 81 to a safer stop in our neighborhood (which has two cul-de-sacs in which buses have safely turned around in the past and over 20 houses in it).  Despite the fact that our current bus stop also possesses two hazards, according to Connecticut Regional School District 17, Policies 3541(d)4d3 and 3541(d)4e, our requests were denied and one of their Conclusion Finding states, “There are no hazards along XX road which could constitute a Hazardous Condition under Board Policy #3541 and The Superintendent has met her burden to prove that the bus stop at issue does not constitute a Hazardous Condition.”  This Conclusion Finding is especially disheartening because it shows that a full safety inspection was not done, in my opinion, because there are hazards that are in plain site and are clearly defined as hazards in the Board Policy #3541.
Of course I’m more concerned about the cars passing through the bus stop signs off HWY 81 than these hazards…I just mention them because it shows that a thorough inspection was not done, in my opinion.  I tell you all of this because we have exhausted all efforts to obtain a safer bus stop for the children in our neighborhood…the compromise that STA was willing to do was to change the stop to be on the same side of HWY 81 so the kids do not have to cross HWY 81.  However, they still have to wait on the side of HWY 81 and in my opinion is unsafe.
Now, as a last resort, I am writing to the community to request that you please, please pay attention when driving during school hours and please STOP when you see a bus with its flashers on.  Our children’s lives depend on YOU!
PS—If your child currently crosses HWY 81, I encourage you to request a bus stop change to have the bus stop on the same side of the highway so the children do not have to cross HWY 81—I was told by Joe Parise, General Manager of STA that no child, regardless of age should be crossing HWY 81 but I still see kids crossing it every day…so it is up to you, the parent to request this change in writing.  Let’s keep our kids safe!
Respectfully,
Alyssa Lape
USN Veteran & Concerned Mom
Higganum

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