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Safety fence installed at Victoria West High School

By Carolina Astrain
Jan. 2, 2014 at 4:02 p.m.
Updated Jan. 1, 2014 at 7:02 p.m.

VISD installed a hurricane fence at Victoria  West  in a effort to prevent parents from parking on the shoulder of Main Street.

A chain-link fence now stands between potential jaywalkers at Victoria West High School and the hurried traffic on U.S. Highway 87.

The fence, about 6-feet high, stretches from the campus' only entrance and ends at the private property near the intersection of U.S. highways 77 and 87.

The fence's installation stemmed from a concern for student safety, said Diane Boyett, Victoria school district communications director.

"We have some parents who drop off their children on the highway," Boyett said. "It's a very dangerous situation."

Last spring, a 16-year-old student was struck by a car as he crossed the highway with other students. He was returning to campus from a convenience store.

"When that child was hit on the highway back in May, he was not being dropped off or picked up," said T. Alette Orcutt-Ramirez, a Victoria school district parent.

She first noticed the fence while driving past the campus with her son last week.

Her son attended Victoria West last year, but he transferred to Liberty Academy this school year, Orcutt-Ramirez, 51, said.

"My first thought when seeing that fence was the complete waste of taxpayers' money to avoid dealing with the real problem," Orcutt-Ramirez said. "The only reason parents were picking up or dropping off kids at the highway was the inability to get into the school safely and efficiently."

Orcutt-Ramirez said she's seen six accidents at the campus.

"All of them were in the parking lot or people trying to get into the parking lot," Orcutt-Ramirez said. "With the fence built, it actually compounds the problem by herding in more vehicles to an already volatile situation."

The money spent to build the fence would have been better spent on a secondary entrance or exit, Orcutt-Ramirez said.

The fence was the outcome of a meeting among the Texas Department of Transportation, the city of Victoria and the Victoria school district. Funding came from the administration's general operating budget, Boyett said.

In August, the Victoria school board adopted a general operating budget of $106,450,544 in expenses and $107,468,198 in revenue.

The cost of the fence was not immediately available.

The administration's hope is that the fence will deter students from jaywalking and encourage them to use the marked crosswalks instead, Boyett said.

There are no plans to install a protective fence at Victoria East High School because a safety issue has not developed there, Boyett said.

"It's purely a safety matter," Boyett said.

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