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Area school zone signs out of sync

Some only in effect until 4 p.m. when school lets out at 4:05 p.m.

SAN ANTONIO – School zone speed limits are in effect to keep kids safe when they are going to school or getting out. But at some schools there is now a big gap in this safety net.

At Madison High School, electronic school zone signs on Stahl Road flash early in the afternoon to protect elementary school kids down the road. And those lights continue flashing past 4:30 p.m., long after Madison lets out.

On the other side of the school on O'Connor Road, grandfather Terry Deppe said it is a different story. "They have a school sign that's posted from 2 to 4 p.m. and school doesn't get out until 4:05 p.m.," Deppe said.

A city ordinance mandates school zones from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. and from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Madison students are dismissed at 4 p.m. and thus are exiting the school after the school zone speed limit has expired. "It's truly a safety issue for the kids," Deppe said.

Even students agree that a school zone that is in effect up until 4 p.m. does not do them much good.

Freshman Al Arriaga said it is after 4 p.m. when O'Connor gets busy and dangerous.

"I can tell you there's many times when the crosswalk has been flashing and i've had people literally speed by and almost hit me," Arriaga said.

The early school zone has been a boon to constables, who have busily written speeding tickets here when kids are still safely in school.

April Hernandez of the city's Public Works Department explained the predicament.

"There are campuses that are beginning to start later in the day and so they're ending later in the day," Hernandez said.

The city said it is now working to change the school zone ordinance to better match dismissal times. And as money is available, replacing static signs with electronic signs and flashing lights.

"We can customize those and make them more appropriate and accommodating to various campuses," Hernandez said.

Until that work can happen all over the city, drivers are being urged to beware of early afternoon school zones and kids on the streets after they expire.