Jacksonville city leaders working to improve school traffic safety

Meeting comes after parents shared concerns about traffic outside Chimney Lakes

By Jim Piggott - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The Jacksonville City Council and Duval County School Board members met Tuesday to discuss student safety after parents of Chimney Lakes Elementary School students expressed concerns about dangerous traffic conditions outside the school.

In video sent to News4Jax last week by a parent, a car can be seen driving in the wrong lane, illegally passing the line of cars waiting to pick up students from the school on Staples Mill Drive, off Argyle Forest Boulevard. People could also be seen driving on the sidewalk.

RELATED: Parents concerned about traffic outside Chimney Lakes Elementary

When News4Jax went back to Chimney Lakes Elementary on Tuesday, some of the same problems remained. Cars were spotted driving on the wrong side of the road to avoid that traffic, putting children and other drivers at risk.

But since News4Jax first reported on the traffic, numerous parents have said that it's actually improved.

"I think people are more aware and cognizant of the traffic patterns. I think with the camera people being here for a few days, it made people a little more aware," parent Joyce Miller said. "We now have extra crossing guards and, all in all, it's getting better. We can't do enough to keep the kids safe."

That was the focus of Tuesday's special joint meeting between the City Council and the school board. One of the topics was safety and conditions at Chimney Lakes Elementary. Since safety concerns involve roads and traffic, it's a city issue, as well.

Still from cellphone video provided by parent

"Today's meeting was about communication, which there has been a lack of," City Councilman Tommy Hazouri said.

Hazouri, who's a former school board member, said he hopes that will change since both sides are now talking to each other. The situation at Chimney Lakes Elementary is just one example of what city leaders said can occur with better communication.

School board member Becki Couch, who represents the area that includes Chimney Lakes Elementary, hopes more improvements will occur. 

"I did get out there and was able to see. And it does move rather quickly. They do have a pretty good system in place," Couch said. "There is room for some improvement with traffic. Signs, ultimately, would be great (and) land, if we could expand the road."

Tuesday's joint meeting

That's where the city would get involved. 

Funding for schools was also a hot topic at Tuesday's meeting. School board members were relaying concerns that more of their money is now going to charter schools, leaving little for building improvements and, ultimately, new schools, which the district hopes to build within the next five years. 

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