CSEA supports bill to make school zones safer for students and staff

April 03, 2024
Safer Schools

CSEA Area C Director Donnell Fassler joined Assemblymember Marc Berman and other education leaders on Thursday at Castlemont Elementary in Campbell, Calif., to voice support for Assembly Bill 2583, the Safer School Zones Act.  

“Classified employees are the support staff who keep our schools running and keep our students safe, but safety begins before our kids even set foot on campus,” Fassler said.  

Submitted by Berman and supported by CSEA, AB 2583 would reduce the speed limit near schools to 20 miles per hour.  

Berman noted that the bill would also allow districts to enforce a new speed limit when their school areas are busiest if they differ from those hours. Communities will also have the opportunity to go through a process to lower that limit to 15 miles per hour if they feel it’s necessary.  

Memorial to local student serves as poignant reminder
Just down the street from where Fassler, Berman, and local education leaders spoke at an intersection outside Castlemont sits a memorial to third grader Jacob Villanueva, who was struck and killed in a crosswalk in 2022.  

It is a poignant reminder that students and classified employees who serve as crossing guards, campus safety monitors, and other roles are in constant danger from unobservant drivers.

Perhaps most importantly, AB 2583 would remove the ambiguous “when children are present” language on road signs in favor of those with the time periods.

Traffic accidents are the main cause of death for school-age children
Fassler noted that at the current limit of 25 miles per hour, it is still not possible for distracted drivers to notice a small child until it is too late. Traffic accidents are the main cause of death for school-age children in California.  

“Reducing the speed limit, clearly defining the hours it is in effect, and establishing a safe perimeter around a school will create a much safer environment for students, parents, and school staff,” she said.  

The death of Villanueva was what spurred Berman to champion this new legislation. It also brought back painful memories of when a middle school classmate of his was hit and killed while biking to school.  

Parents expressing concern about student safety
“I’ve heard from too many parents concerned about close calls in front of schools or, tragically, kids being hit by cars and seriously injured, or even killed. We must take action to prioritize the safety of every child walking and biking to school.”

Of the 39 states with a maximum school zone speed limit, California is one of just nine with a limit greater than 20 miles per hour.  

If passed by the legislature and signed by the governor, the bill would take effect January 1, 2025, with a phased rollout to follow. 

This article was written by CSEA Sr. Communication Specialist Matt Murphy.