NEWS- <i>Don't</i> walk: Buses replace guards at Hollymead

Albemarle County has long extolled the pedestrian-friendly walkability of its neighborhood model. That's why some parents of Hollymead Elementary students are flummoxed that the school has just yanked its crossing guards from in front of the building to be replaced by buses– even for students who live across the street from the school.

Marty Moore lives on Tinkers Cove, six houses away from the school, and walks her 9-year-old-daughter to and from each day. "They said they'd give us a bus," she says. "It's kind of silly. We're one of the few neighborhood schools where kids walk."

Last week Hollymead Elementary students came home with a letter from principal Carol Hastings explaining the decision.  The letter claims that Albemarle police have declared it illegal for anyone other than a uniformed officer to direct traffic.

"I couldn't believe the police said something so ridiculous," says Hollymead parent Tim Grable.

Certain standards have to be met for a person to direct traffic on a public street or highway, says Lieutenant John Teixeira with the Albemarle police. The crosswalk has to be marked, and the crossing guard has to be trained, in uniform, and outfitted with the right equipment.

Apparently the orange-vest-wearing teachers holding a stop sign on Powell Creek Drive, who have been manning the school's crosswalk for years, don't meet the stiff standards. But Teixeira denies that police are the heavies in preventing kiddies from walking.

"We responded to an inquiry from the school division– not just Hollymead," he says. "There wasn't any egregious situation."

Except, perhaps, for the dangers of crossing the street at the school. As Powell Creek Drive has become an alternative to U.S. Route 29 over the past few years, traffic on the road in front of the school has increased, despite speed humps and a traffic circle.

"It's very dangerous," says Moore, whose daughter was almost hit last week and who says a crossing guard was "nipped" by a car last year. "The traffic is definitely getting worse."

 Ken Boyd, chairman of the Albemarle Board of Supervisors, is caught off guard by the situation. "Not only is it against what we're trying to do with the neighborhood model and walkability," he says, but he cites health issues as well, and the importance of encouraging exercise among America's increasingly obese youth.

"If it's a matter of training, we ought to see that they get it, rather than the [bus] option," he adds. "I can't imagine it would take that much training to be a crossing guard." Boyd says he'll be looking into the "disconcerting" situation. 

Albemarle schools spokeswoman Christy Sinatra reports, meanwhile, that the police department will provide a training program for crossing guards– this summer.



Let's not forget the multitude of kids being dropped off each day as a contributor to the traffic. On the one hand, this bizzare "American" behavior serves to cause such congestion as to slow traffic allowing a safer crossing for the walkers. On the other hand, what the F are people thinking - put your kids on the bus or set them off walking. Why are you driving them to elementary school?????????

A major problem is the fact that the supposed speed humps do nothing to slow traffic. Sometimes it seems as though people speed up to see how fast they can go over them. We need to remember that that street is crossed by pedestrians everyday, not just for school. We have soccer, baseball, joggers, etc. Let work on making Powell Creek safe.

I love the way the kids learn about global warming and keeping healthy at school - after riding three minutes to school in their parents gas guzzling cars. The buses are now making a trip to Hollymead with one load of kids - and then coming back out to pick up the extra kids that used to walk. Talk about backwards thinking.

I drive my child to school every day. And have been since her first day of school. And I will continue to do so. With a vehicle that gets 7 miles per gallon. Some of you need to mind your own business as to why a parent does what he/she does.

If you have a problem with my 7 miles a gallon, go out and buy something smaller for yourself and conserve some gas for me. You won't catch me hugging any trees in my lifetime. While the rest of you are cutting these same trees down to build 12 room $400,000 to $800,000 homes with.

Well, Steve, let me ask you this - is there some reason why you feel the need to drive your child to school? Is the bus not good enough?

We'll mind our own business when the roads become a little less crowded, thank you.

Yes, there is a reason. Well, several. Namely, because I feel like it. And secondly, because she prefers it. She was concerned about all the riff raff riding the buses and carrying weapons.

The way to reduce crowded roads is to improve them. We can improve them if we stop spending so much money buying every fire department employee a Tahoe, Suburban, Excursion or extended wheelbase 4X4 pickup truck. Have you noticed the money they spend on gas guzzlers nowadays? I have never seen so much waste in spending in my entire life. And maybe we should save money and gas by stopping all the take home cars out of Albemarle County now by police officers (recently adopted policy, they can take their cars home up to 15 miles out of Albemarle County).

I'll conserve gas and care about the crowded roadways when the local government does.

Well, I guess your reasoning is fair - and you have a point about the government vehicles.

Still I find this a little offensive. I rode the bus for 12 years, along with many of my friends. I came from a not-so-great neighborhood, so I guess I'd be considered "riff raff." And I never carried a weapon, and there was never a violent incident on my bus. Most of the true "riff raff" skipped school anyway.

Steve, are you for real?? Have you stepped out of your gas guzzler (your words) and into the school? You would be very hard pressed to find any "riff raff" at Hollymead. And my guess is the only gun toters are the ones in there large SUV's, so the can shoot the wittnesses after they run over a child.
And find me a walker who has to cross Powell Creek with a 12 room $400-$800k home.

Rock on, Steve! I agree with you 100%, although I don't drive what I would call a gas guzzler. And I don't think that Easy Walker has "stepped into the school" lately judging from all the misspelled words.

The amount of money spent on all of these vehicles (government, fire department, etc) would be much better spent on our children via the schools, teachers, etc. I rode a bus all of my school-life too, but times have changed since then. Not only is the bus unsafe, but you're not even safe in the classroom anymore between the drugs, the sexual predators and the "misunderstood children" (formerly known as riff raff). If people were allowed to spank their kids when they needed it without fear of social services knocking on their door, there might be less of those misunderstood.

I respected my parents. I respected elders in general when I was growing up. In my entire life, I can only remember my father striking me once when I was in high school and I deserved it that day, although I didn't think so at the time.

So drive your child to school. Drive back and forth to check on them 10 times a day if you want to. Someone has to be looking out for our children.

It is pretty amazing that a discussion over school buses and crossing guards causes this much vitriolic talk. Steve and Kimosabi should actually consider buying cars with better mpg so they can get to the therapist on a more regular schedule - like daily.

Kimosabi, Walker and Lisa are living in some type of fantasy world if they think even Hollymead is a safe school. There is NO safe school anywhere today.

And trust me, Lisa hasn't seen a vitriolic discussion yet. As far as the money issue and people telling me to toss my kids on a school bus, I would go out tomorrow and buy my wife a 3/4 ton Suburban super gas guzzler if she would agree to drive it on a daily basis. I'm suppose to hug trees and conserve gas while the county does as they please with each new gas guzzler they purchase. I'll think about hugging trees and conserving gas when the city and county governements do. I just saw a big red Fire Department Ford Excursion today. It's probably getting about 6 miles a gallon at best. Your tax money at work. I wonder how many miles to and from work this gas guzzler carries the employee each and every day? and the taxpayer is footng the gas bill.

And Lisa, what's this foolishness about a therapist? When a person resorts to namecalling and insults they have lost the debate. You do realize this? /Steve

Hey Kimosabi, sorry about the typos I made up there in my 11:59:22 reply. It's late and I am tired. I should have proofread it before submitting it.

I didn't want you to think I make typos on a regular basis!

(I crack myself up! HaHaHa!)


Have you considered moving to an area where the public transporation fleet isn't so distressing to you? Or maybe you should consider volunteering with the Chville/Able Rescue Squad and learn what they do with their vehicles.

For future reference, any comments on a message board in regards to spelling and grammar are considered insults.

Apples to oranges, Lisa. I didn't say a word about Rescue Squad vehicles. Rescue squad vehicles are paid for, operated, and maintained with public donations.

I was talking about new Fire Department vehicles I see on the road every day. Tahoes, Suburbans, Excursions, extended wheelbase 4X4 pickups, etc...

How hard is this to understand? I said when the city and county governments attempt to conserve gasoline, I will.

And I don't like public transportation any more than I do public restrooms. Why is it so hard to understand this is America and I don't have to use public transportation if I don't want to?

As far as the insult thing, implying a person has or needs a therapist is an insult. Commenting that a person isn't extremely intelligent based on their bad spelling and grammar is a fact. I'm not the brightest crayon in the box, you will find grammar mistakes in my submissions pretty often.

RE: Steve's 11:59:22 PM posting...

I never said schools were safe. In fact, I said the EXACT OPPOSITE. Thank goodness...I don't want to be living in a fantasy world. When would I have time to get to the therapist??

Good grief. I agree...when a person resorts to namecalling and criticism, they've lost the debate. Go back to sleep Lisa.

Steve, you do realize that one purpose of such vehicles for the fire department is so that they can go off road should they need to? I am assuming you're not taking your 7 mpg vehicle off road to fight any brush fires, but correct me if I'm wrong.

I have had kids in the albemarle County schools for 17 years. I would say they have collectively used the buses about 80% of the time. Why not 98%? Well, to start with, the bus rides to schools 2 miles away take 25 minutes in the morning and about 50 minutes in the afternoon. Sometimes this is not the best way for a kid to be spending his/her time. Bus drivers have a wide range of competence ranging from near saint/competent driver to abusive/scarily incompetent. I will spare you the horror stories and say only that I have seen parents weep when losing a good driver for their neighborhoods. Also,the peer situation on the bus may be pleasant or feral. Parents are obliged to put the well being of their child/family ahead of social principles sometimes. And if other folks are upset about that I say "oh well".

RE: M's 12:49:16 PM posting..

No, I believe Steve is using his SUV to get to the Klan meetings. I am sure he get the positive feedback he needs there.

And finally, a suggestion...

Why don't we start a new system for the buses: one for the riff-raff, one for the gun-toting kids with issues, and then one for the normal people. For God's sake, let's protect the children!!!

You guys crack me up! Albemarle county is so fricking pretentious! I was brought up in a small town, people from my area didn't have expensive cars or houses, we walked to school and later we could take a bus if we wanted to. A lot of us were "riff raff" but we were good kids and walking with the others or riding the bus with them taught us how to get along with others no matter what their social standing.

How about instead of teaching your kids that they're better then other kids and shouldn't associate with the riff raff, teach them to accept all people and have some tolerance and understanding towards others. What am I thinking, how can a parent teach a child something they don't know themselves.

Karen, why do you mention Klan meetings? Do you see something racial in the term "riff raff"? It certainly wasn't meant to be. Riff raff comes in all colors, shapes and sizes. Both male and female.

Kimosabi, sorry about that. I was talking to you, not about you. As in "Hey Kimosabi, so and so live in a fantasy world!"

Mr or Mrs M, a 4 wheel drive Jeep, which costs 1/2 or 1/3 of what a big gas guzzling Suburban or Tahoe does, will do the same job. And burn less gas.

Gail, I know the horror tales of the drivers. What kind of drivers do they expect with the wages they pay? And a driver ties up his/her entire day for what is basically a part time job. The city and county governments can stop buying so many Tahoes, Suburbans, 4X4 extended wheelbase pickup trucks and Excursions, and pay perhaps the drivers more.

Mr or Mrs Riff Raff, in this particular case the term means a kid that would rather not even be on the bus or going to school in the first place. The kid who sneaks his dad's 12" hunting knife or handgun into his back pack and displays it and plays with it on the bus. The kind of kid that would just as soon smack the driver in the face as he drink a beer. And as I told Karen, this isn't a racial or Klan thing. They come in all sizes, shapes and colors.

After all this discussion I will still drive my kids to school each and every day. It has nothing to do with social standing and getting along. Gail hit the nail on the head, it has to do with the safety of our children.

The paronoia is what concerns me. Why do you want your kids to grow up scared of everything and everyone. Here we live in one of the best places in the country and your worried about "riff raff." I think that not only does riff raff exist in all races, but all social standings as well.
So take a look in the mirror, Steve and you'll see riff raff looking back at you.

First - this forum is about having a crossing guard to protect our children crossing Powell Creek.

Second - If my kids could be ready for the bus on time, they would ride the bus, but I mostly drive them as life with kids does not follow a simple timeline.

Third – Hollymead is very safe. Hollymead is an elementary school, we do have kids across the spectrum from bullies to geeks, but they are kids not riff-raff.

Fourth – Your argument string about SUVs and government vehicles is illogical, they drive the vehicles specified to perform in all conditions. People would die if a 1st responder arrived in a Ford Escort.

Fifth – Sorry Steve, but you have some real problems with authority and people. We will need to trace your IP address and question you.