By Marie Roberts / Guest writer
The Meridian Star
Law enforcement officials are cautioning drivers to be on the alert Tuesday as students in both the Meridian Public School District and the Lauderdale County School District return to school.
Drivers should be more aware of speed limits within school zones and of buses loading and unloading students, Meridian Police Department Capt. Dean Harper said.
"Every year people forget or do not pay attention to school zones and often do the normal limit,” Harper said.
During school hours, those driving non-school zone speed limits are often going four times higher than the allowed speed, he said.
“It never hurts to still slow down when around a school because you never know when students may be out for a field trip or being picked up early,” Harper said.
Children returning to school are aren't always paying attention and it is the responsibility of drivers to be alert for children who might inadvertently run out in the road, Harper said.
“Kids get excited and may be running back and forth and there is a possibility of a child getting too far away from parents or teachers,” Harper said.
Lauderdale County School District Superintendent Randy Hodges also stressed student safety. He is encouraging drivers to be aware of their surroundings and watch for children getting on or off buses.
"For many students, this may be their first time riding a bus,” Hodges said.
School officials have been busy getting ready for the new school year and there is a lot of planning involved to ensure a good start to the term, Hodges said.
“We’ve been meeting with stakeholders and planning for a great start for all of the teachers and students,” said Hodges, adding that he is looking forward to students and staff seeing recent renovations to all four of the Lauderdale County schools, including upgraded restrooms.
Meridian Public School District Superintendent Dr. Alvin Taylor said the focus for the upcoming school year will be on teamwork and unity.
"After spending the last two weeks participating in community rallies, we are more excited than ever to begin a new school year," Taylor said. "We feel that the unity between the Meridian Public School District and the community of Meridian is the strongest it has been in a long time, and if we all work together, we can't help but have a successful year.”