Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Students Hope to Bring Change to State Law; They Want Slower Speed Limits around Middle Schools

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Students Hope to Bring Change to State Law; They Want Slower Speed Limits around Middle Schools

Article excerpt

Byline: Sandy Strickland, Times-Union staff writer

Hoping to save lives, some Westside students have successfully taken their cause to the Jacksonville City Council and the Duval County School Board. Next up, the Legislature.

An advanced history class at Jefferson Davis Middle School wants to put the brakes on motorists during the times that middle school students are walking to and from school. To do so, they propose amending a state statute to require that all middle schools have designated speed zones of 15 to 20 mph. In Duval County, only elementary schools have such zones.

"We don't think middle schools need crossing guards, but we believe cars should slow down while students are walking to and from school every day," said Samantha Ingham, 13.

The eighth-graders came up with the idea while participating in a research study known as Project Citizen sponsored by the Florida Law Related Education Association in Tallahassee. Their project was chosen as one of five state finalists, and they recently traveled to Tallahassee to present their research data and defend their findings, placing fourth in the state.

Jordan Thompson, 14, said his class chose the issue because it affected students more personally than other public policy projects on a list they were considering.

"At first, they just wanted to get the speed limit on our road reduced during the time students are walking to and from school," said their teacher, Kevin Fulp. "Then they discovered there are many other schools in the same position."

As part of their research, students collected data on the number of auto accidents in the vicinity of Duval County middle schools from January 2003 to March 2004. There were 72 accidents total in 18 of 26 middle schools, Fulp said. That includes eight accidents -- not all involving students -- at Jeff Davis on Melvin Road.

Moreover, students said the statute needs amending because elementary schools used to include sixth grade, which is now part of middle school. …

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