Push to keep children safer as they commute to school

It has been three weeks since a driver took off after hitting and killing an 8-year-old girl while she waited for her school bus. Still, no arrest has been made.

With school safety on many minds, one Cape Coral school could get some much-needed safety upgrades and additions. That is just a small part of what is going on right now.

While it might not be the busiest road in Cape Coral, come early mornings and after school, you will see Oasis students crossing in the middle of the street.

Nancy Chisholm lives down the road from the Cape Coral Charter School.

“No signs or anything for the kids no lights,” Nancy Chisholm said. “I come all times of the day walking my dog and I see kids all grouped or on their bikes or on their scooters.”

The city charter school does have school zone signs and a full-time crossing guard in the morning and afternoon. But there is not a designated crosswalk in the street – only through the school’s parking lot.

Joe Coviello, the mayor of Cape Coral, said it needs to change.

“The more marking, the more flashing, the more we make available for children to cross at that particular area when they come out of that gate,” Coviello said, “I think the better off we’ll be.”

City leaders are talking about a crosswalk request at the council meeting on Monday afternoon. Coviello thinks they will decide tonight. If they move forward with the crosswalk, a city leader said it could be installed in about four-to-six-months.

But that would not be the only change around Cape Coral to improve student safety. Benches and now more than 100 of them have popped up around Cape Coral, North Fort Myers and Lehigh Acres.

Volunteers and parents are donating their time and money to build a spot for kids to wait for their bus on their commute to school. It comes weeks after Layla Aiken, 8, was hit and killed waiting for hers.

Adding a crosswalk, flashing lights and other improvements at the Oasis Campus would cost around $25,000, the city said.

It is money that Coviello thinks would be well spent to keep children safer.

“Oasis is one of our city schools, so that’s a start point,” Coviello said. “If there are other schools in our city that we need to look at safety for the children as far as crosswalks are concerned, I’m all in on that. I think it something that we need to address and we need to do it sooner rather than later.”

Reporter:Morgan Rynor
Brooke Shafer
Writer:Michael Mora