Schools eye safe solutions

GLENDALE — City and school officials spent two hours Thursday reviewing traffic safety and discussing possible changes that could alert drivers in the area around Toll Middle School, where a motorist struck and killed 11-year-old Meri Nalbandyan last week.

Officials discussed traffic problems related to pick-ups and drop-offs for the more than 4,000 students who attend schools within two blocks on Glenwood Road, where Toll, Keppel Elementary School and Hoover High School are all located, said Linda Junge, the public information officer for the Glendale Unified School District.

Medians, stop signs, a traffic signal, speed bumps, road closures and relocations of designated drop-off zones were all mentioned as potential solutions for the often congested area, she said.

While officials are still uncertain about what changes, if any, will be made, they have called for a forum to discuss community concerns at 7 p.m. Nov. 19 in the Hoover auditorium.

“We’ve gotten together some options that we think are viable and we think have a good chance to increase safety,” Junge said. “And so the next step is getting some community input.”

Residents have been concerned about safety on Glenwood since at least 2000, when a Hoover High School student was stabbed to death in a gang-related incident that involved cruising in the area.

Although changes, including new one-way streets and an added crosswalk, were made in response to the death in 2000, concerns were on the rise even before Meri’s death, school board member Greg Krikorian said.

Now, he said, more traffic precautions are necessary, not only around Toll, Hoover and Keppel, but at all Glendale schools

“Initially, our schools were built with less density around them,” Krikorian said. “Now, in the past 20 years, our city has grown so much, which has created higher traffic and more challenges for our schools and our families.”

Although no crossing guard was at the crosswalk where Meri was killed, the city has placed one at the site since and added an electronic traffic sign Thursday, which has improved safety, said Margaret Hall, Toll’s PTA president.

“It’s pushed cars away from the crosswalk area and makes the crosswalk more visual,” Hall said.

Toll parents have shown interest in adding a stop sign or traffic signal at the crosswalk in front of the school, but school-related traffic safety as a whole needs to be considered, Hall said.

“If you put a stop sign at that crosswalk, that would help that problem, but that’s not the only area of concern,” Hall said.

Citywide precautions related to morning and afternoon school traffic have been long overdue, said Krikorian, who pointed out that he approached the City Council in March about creating a traffic safety video for parents and students.

A video that encouraged parents to slow down and be more alert around schools could help, he said, adding that other possible steps could include creating a traffic safety week at schools, similar to Red Ribbon Week.

Another change could involve garbage truck collection times, which often clash with school drop-offs, Krikorian said.

“It creates another hazard for parents and students to maneuver around,” he said. “The least obstacles that we can create for our children and our families, the better off we are.”


 ZAIN SHAUK covers education. He may be reached at (818) 637-3238 or by e-mail at zain.shauk@latimes.com.

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