When the Madison-Champaign Educational Service Center moved its operations from several offices to the former Lawnview School on U.S. Route 68, south of Urbana, it was without flashing lights denoting a school zone.
The ESC had lights for a school zone at that location before it moved its preschool to Urbana Local Intermediate a few years ago, ESC Superintendent Dr. Dan Kaffenbarger said. The preschool, and other ESC offices, returned to the former Lawnview School this summer and wants the school zone warning devices installed again.
Kaffenbarger said he spoke with the Ohio Department of Transportation in the spring to get the school zone and was told preschools are not eligible for the lights. He said he found that odd since the school had a school zone previously.
He said he then was told the district’s IRN – the Ohio Department of Education’s designated number for the school district – showed it was not eligible for a school zone. Kaffenbarger also questioned that, since the ESC has a school in Bellefontaine with a school zone.
“We’ve got parents concerned, bus drivers concerned,” he said. “It’s a difficult place to get out of during the day anyway, but it’s incredibly busy at the end of our school day. Route 68 is just a busy route.”
Kaffenbarger said approximately 300 vehicles a day travel in and out of the ESC.
The issue could be compounded if Urbana City Schools decides to purchase a property not far from the ESC on U.S. Route 68 for its elementary/middle school.
Urbana Superintendent Charles Thiel said early talks with ODOT indicated there could be a gap between the Urbana school zone and the ESC school zone on Route 68. He said he hasn’t discussed the issue with ODOT recently.
Kaffenbarger said he’s going to see if state Rep. Nino Vitale (R-Urbana) will help get the school zone back for the ESC.
Casey S. Elliott may be reached at 937-652-1331 ext. 1772 or on Twitter @UDCElliott.