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Traffic problems complicate first day of school for Refugio ISD Superintendent says projects underway will improve school year
by KENDA NELSON
Sep 03, 2008 | 560 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Traffic was heavy and the Refugio Police Officers were on the job in force Monday morning as school bells rang in the beginning of school. BeBe Castellano and Sgt. Dean Ochoa escort a wave of children across the street.
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Refugio ISD officially went to a two-campus system when the school bells rang Monday morning. But traffic in the school zones was a nightmare, according to Refugio Police Chief Chris Brock.

“I’m angry and worried that somebody’s going to get run over,” Brock said. “My officers were out helping school crossing guards but there are problems. Crossing lanes are not painted, one of the school speed limit signs is not working, TxDOT crews were working on the road and Mission River Bridge which created a backup and a street sweeper was running up the highway. I’m not happy.”

Police officers were out in mass Monday morning with flashing lights to remind motorists of the first day of school. Brock said drivers continued to ignore the 20-mile-per-hour school zone limit.

One motorist was clocked doing 58 miles per hour and 14 more were doing more than 50 mph, Brock said.

“Without the school zone, the limit on the highway is 35, and these drivers were doing over 50,” Brock said.

Next week, the chief said all bets are off and all speeders will be ticketed.

“It’s unbelievable,” Brock said. “My officers were cussed out and had to dodge vehicles on the highway. But more than anything else, I’m worried about our kids.”

In spite of the traffic problems this first week of school, Superintendent Bobby Azam reported that “multiple building and construction projects are going on simultaneously” and the board is “excited about educating kids in modern facilities.”

The seventh and eighth graders have a new building at the high school campus and fourth through sixth graders have a new facility at Refugio Elementary.

“These buildings have turned out quite well and we are excited about educating kids in modern facilities,” Azam said, noting other projects either completed or underway.

Last summer, the school installed air conditioning in the five main buses that are used to transport kids to school and extracurricular activities.

“This is a tremendous improvement as our kids can now travel in comfort to and from school and activities,” the superintendent said.

Installing air conditioning in the gym is now in the works. The gymnasium is used by all the athletic teams, both girls and boys in high school and junior high.

“This will also be a huge improvement for our parents and community who come to support our teams,” Azam said. “Last Thursday, Aug. 14, the RISD board of trustees officially approved the district to accept bids for air conditioning the high school gymnasium.”

In two weeks, the board will review the bids. Renovation of the gym foyer is also in underway. The year-long process is near completion.

“We’ve carpeted the floor and part of the walls as well as installed a new ceiling with improved lighting,” Azam said. “One of the best renovations we’ve finished is the new trophy cases that highlight all of the many years of Refugio girls’ and boys’ success.”

The decision to build the multipurpose building currently under construction on the west side of the stadium is a result of growth in athletic participation, a shortage of locker rooms, and a need to upgrade concession stands and bathroom facilities.

“To accommodate all of these needs, we developed the RISD multipurpose facility,” Azam said.

Although the building was scheduled to be completed by the beginning of school, rain and other minor delays postponed the date to the end of September.

“The RISD school board understands the importance of having quality facilities for our teachers and students,” Azam said. “Our goal is to continually improve our facilities, making the people of our community proud and we believe the improvements for our students’ facilities will also carry over into classroom success. Refugio has a tremendous sense of pride and these additions will give our community additional reasons to be proud.”
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