INVESTIGATES: Schools without school zones an ‘accident waiting to happen’

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — School zones are a signal for drivers to slow down, but not every school qualifies for one. Some parents at a Jacksonville charter school are speaking up to signal change over fears speeding by their children’s school could turn deadly.

Victoria Dykes has been dropping her first and third grader off at Seaside Charter north in North Jacksonville for two years.

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The school is set back on Broward Road, which has a speed limit of 35 mph and no designated school zone.

“A lot of the traffic that comes through — they have no idea there’s a school here,” Dykes said. “It’s an accident waiting to happen coming out of this school,” Erin Rhodes, another parent, added.

According to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, officers issued 350 citations at the block in front of the school over the past eight years. 233 of those tickets were for speeding, which is more than 60%. On average, they were speeding 9 miles per hour over the speed limit.

It’s the reason why parents are calling for a school zone, which would reduce the speed to at least 20 miles per hour during pick up and drop off.

In an email, the school’s principal told Action News Jax’s Robert Grant, “Our parents have worked to contact our District Representative and a city engineer did come to investigate to see if we qualified for a school zone and informed me that we did not. I also have reported the concerns to my school safety officer and JSO has investigated. We also let the owner of the property know our concerns.”

According to the City of Jacksonville’s traffic engineering department, school zones are for streets of traditional schools and charter schools with the following qualifications.

  • At least ten student pedestrians walking to and from class
  • At least 40 miles per hour
  • No stop sign or traffic light to control traffic

The other option:

  • At least 40 student pedestrians
  • No nearby traffic light

Action News Jax dug through the city’s records and discovered that of the 99 elementary schools on file, 12 don’t have a school zone. However, the list provided is more than a decade old.

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In an email, a city representative said in part, “Inaccuracies come from the fact that some schools have multiple school zones, while others have no school zones. Also, schools may have been closed, or new schools built and Traffic Engineering has not been notified. We are in the process of updating our list and inventorying our schools.”

Dykes just wants a safe solution.

“We just want people to know that we’re here. That we’re a school. We have kids here. We have families trying to come and go every day and we don’t want to see anybody get hurt.”

Below is a full list of all Duval public schools and whether they are in a designated school zone according to city records.