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For Community and School Leaders

For Community and School Leaders

*This post is personal. It’s professional. It’s powerful. It can save lives. There are times in life where you normally do what is expected, for me, that would be a simple and likely unproductive call (as I have made some previously). Or you can step back, reflect, and decide to make a bigger difference, a real difference, that exceeds the horizons of normal courses of action.

For Parents & Teenagers: Parents remember to empower your teens, and remind them if they don’t feel comfortable driving on winter roads to take the safest route, go to a closer place like a friend’s house, or simply stay put. Regardless if school officials or employers fail to acknowledge driving conditions and inclement weather.

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Dear City Council Members, School District Leaders, Road Crews (of every city, school district, road crews):

You have titles attached to your name. There are levels of excellence and expectation that are assumed by your residents for you to have under these titles. Your number one job is the safety and well-being of our residents and children.

There are no excuses to be had when it comes do doing that job. There is a zero tolerance policy in force when it comes to safety of our children. It is apparent that the expectations required of you have been forgotten.

Today for the second time during this mild winter every road from my house –which is within a mile of the school was covered in ice. The frontage road in front of the elementary school – all ice. The hill leading into and out of the school parking lot along with the parking lot – all ice.

Explain to me please, as a parent of two children, just when and who in charge did not drive on, see and walk on all the ice? Why were no delays held? Why on earth had there not been a single sand truck anywhere near this school BEFORE school start time?

Why did not a single school teacher or official personally go out to the parking lot with ice melt and sprinkle any down? Why were zero calls made to the city saying “hey guys our number one job here is the safety of our children. Get out here within five minutes with more than a sprinkle of sand or I’m calling your boss?”

When and how did initiative and leadership slip beyond your scope of duty? The maintenance of winter roads is not rocket science.

The prior time this occurred, not only had no sand/ice melt been put down before dropping off one child, but had not happened by the time I dropped second child off an hour later. After addressing the issue with a higher up in the school and being assured the matter was being taken care of (which should have been resolved hours earlier) I went to leave the school. I saw a teeny tiny old pickup truck with a sand machine the size of a picnic cooler make its way into the parking lot and make one teensy route around the exterior of the parking lot before heading back out. It was there less than three minutes and I guarantee you folks – there was no way that little amount of sand did anything to help the icy conditions. That is not resolving and working on the issue.

When I returned three hours later to pick up both my children, not only had zero sand been put down on any of the main roads in town but the school parking lot was still a complete sheet of ice! Here is where I need to mention that our town is all hills.

Putting sand down one foot away from stop signs at the bottom of a hill is not treating or helping resolve icy road conditions and preventing accidents. At 11:30 am there is absolutely no excuse for every road in a small town to not be completely sanded.

I had to take an alternative route through town trying to find the least steep hill to drive down to get to the main street leading to mine. A one mile two minute drive had turned into a 5 mile an hour crawl –still sliding mind you – and twenty minutes to get home. I was not the only one having to do this and having to drive that slow. You couldn’t go any faster. Not a single road in town at 11:30 am had a speck of sand on it. Not a single one.

I made a call this morning to our city and was informed I had to directly call our mayor for anything to happen.

Listen. No parent should ever have to mention the icy conditions of streets leading to and from the town’s schools (let alone its parking lot) to any teacher or principal. No parent should ever have to call the city and then the mayor for icy road issues to be addressed – if anything would even result of my phone call at all.

This should never have to happen folks. It is the city leaders responsibility, then the city crews, then the school officials, then the employees of the school (teachers and administrators), then the parents. This is a complete line of failure in accepting ownership and responsibility. And the ones who receive the consequences are our children.

You should be shaking your heads in disgust – at yourselves!

I have witnessed the preschool bus struggle to get up out of the elementary parking lot and then have to turn left and drive down the biggest hill in town on a sheet of ice. No preschool parent should have to hear this from another parent, nor have to worry about the safety of their children getting to and from school.

So far our community has been lucky. Well mostly. I was informed by a friend that there were three accidents this morning on a main road leading into town, one of them including a roll over by her teenage daughter. This mom got a real wake-up call today, God bless them for her daughter is ok.

Let me share with you what happens when those who are in positions of leadership fail to do their jobs.

Lives are lost.

In the school district I went to high school at this happened. Twice.

After several incidents in which parents had to complain to authorities about the lack of initiative by those in charge to ensure winter roads were being treated properly and timely and that schools were delaying and dismissing quickly enough in regards to the weather.

Two separate incidents of winter conditions, both car accidents occurring within a mile or two of the school. How do you not learn from the first loss of life that was easily preventable?

Today two of my classmates should be here, alive and thriving with careers and families of their own. And they are not because people with titles and in positions of power failed to uphold the number one responsibility of their job.

Let my letter and blog post be a message for you. A clear and direct wake-up call for you step up and own your responsibilities as leaders in our communities.

Take a moment and think about your spouse, your children. Think about your kid’s best friends and your own friends. Think about what it would be like for you to lose a loved one or to stand by and watch your friend lose a child because you, a person with power and a title and in position to ensure our roads are well taken care of, could have prevented.

Think about it. Feel it for a minute. It hurts. It stings. It ought to.

There is no excuse for main roads in towns, the roads leading to and from schools and school parking lots to be sheets of ice. Zero excuses. Zero tolerance policy. Lives are at stake. If a city/town cannot get these main routes for traffic safe to travel on by 7am or an hour before teenagers leave their homes to make it to early practice – schools and practices need to be delayed.

If it is an issue of lack of leadership and discipline and work ethic – start firing those who can’t uphold the duties the job requires and hire people who are willing to do what it takes to keep our loved ones safe.

Money is not an issue. It is never an issue when it comes to the safety and well-being of our children. We have beautiful schools, beautiful parks, a great pool and rec center – surely there is money available for bigger and better quality sanding trucks and equipment and to hire more sand truck drivers. Yes there is. Ask any mother for help with working your city budget – guaranteed she could make it happen pretty damn quick!

Don’t make it about politics. Don’t point fingers at each other to reduce your responsibility. Just own up to it and work together to make better decisions that will improve the safety of our communities and for our families.

Today, city leaders, school officials and road crews – you got lucky. This Mama Bear isn’t going to knock on your door and ask why you aren’t doing your job. This Mama Bear isn’t going to hold a death grip on her steering wheel driving down any of the hills in town to get her kids back home from school. No this Mama Bear is going make sure our kids are safe – and that means reminding community leaders everywhere of what it is do their jobs and seeing to it that this letter goes viral.

This situation shouldn’t be happening in any community/school district. We live in a winter weather state. It is called common sense. It is called being leaders in our community. It is called having a wholly functioning and worthwhile winter weather plan and actually putting it into action before it needs doing and not waiting until hours after it should have been done.

And now it is time for you do better.

The lives of my children and those of their classmates are priceless. The lives of our parents and community members just as important.

No more slacking. No more being lazy. No more reasoning.

Just make the changes that need made and see to it that we are not endangering our children’s safety again.

 

*Please share this with your families, friends and communities. Let’s starting acting like leaders and make better decisions. Help this letter go viral and begin to require more out of your city and school district. Our children are worth it!

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