— By LARRY M. JONES
When I occasionally venture off the “pore farm,” it is not unusual to be approached by someone with a comment or suggestion about my weekly column. These comments are generally gracious, but more important are suggestions for columns about subjects that need addressing.
One such topic that has floated about for several years concerns the traffic jams around our schools. For obvious reasons I have, for just as many years, avoided the topic.
Without question, I’m most familiar with the Brock community and the traffic around its three school campuses, but I know from the experience of picking up my grandchildren from various Weatherford ISD schools, such problems are not unique to Brock.
The logistics of transporting hundreds of children safely to and from school is a daunting task these days. It did not seem as involved back in simpler days in Parker County when kids merely walked to school. It was good exercise, cost nothing and built character. Walking uphill both directions, always into the wind of a freezing blizzard and with only rags on their feet prepares children for life’s challenges.
As schools began consolidating in the 1920s, school busses were used so children could be transported greater distances. For roughly the next 50 years, this worked nicely. While there had to be a problem here and there, for the life of me, I can’t recall anything serious. The worst I can think of was the time when I was driving such a bus during my senior year. I had warned Travis Combs (a sophomore) to quit horsing around or I would put him off the bus – he didn’t, I did, and Superintendent Bill Thomas backed me up the next day.
During those simpler times, there were no such things as school zones, speed limits, crossing guards, cell phone rules nor even any restriction on guns on campus. Yet, despite all the laxity, I can’t recall a single accident, incident, injury or problem. These days, in order to get our fair share of misery, we’ve implemented extensive regulation and oversight by various authorities.
I Googled it, and found that today just one fancy, new school bus might cost almost $100,000. Factor in the fuel, maintenance, drivers and depreciation, and that’s a sizable investment to transport children. Yet, the busses I see are often partially filled. Could this be because huge numbers of parents are dropping off and picking up children in their gas guzzling SUVs or pickups? I think that in 12 years of attending Brock School, my folks might have picked me up at school a couple or three times. I don’t remember but one, but I’ll exaggerate just to be conservative.
I’ve learned to never get caught anywhere near a school between 7:30 a.m. and 8 a.m., or just after 3 p.m. It’s like getting between a momma grizzly and her cub. You don’t want to find yourself between a soccer mom in an SUV and the child she’s picking up at school. If you don’t know the parking lot protocol, you’d better detour by way of Amarillo. It would be safer and a whole lot faster.
Larry M. Jones is a retired Navy commander and aviator who raises cattle and hay in the Brock/Lazy Bend part of Parker County. Comments may be directed to email@example.com.