Black Hill school safety fears

BLACK Hill Primary School is sending a warning to the community after  “near misses” involving children and vehicles in recent weeks. 

Assistant principal Penny Westlake said she wanted the message to be out there before someone was hurt. 

“In the past couple of months we’ve had a few close misses. I personally get very worried.” she said. 

The primary school on Chisholm Street is one of the largest in the region, with 545 pupils and a further 45 pupils at the kindergarten.

Ms Westlake said parents and grandparents had witnessed the near misses and it had concerned many of them.

“We encourage parents to park safely rather than do quick drop-offs, or get more children walking to school to avoid congestion,” she said.

Ms Westlake said school staff supervised each school exit point for 15 minutes after school, as well as monitoring the two crossings.

A pupil’s grandmother, Margo Rees, said in a letter to the school that she witnessed a brother save his little sister’s life. 

“They were standing on the corner of Idea Street and Chisholm Street ... a car that was not adhering to the speed limit came over the crest just as the little girl stepped into its path. If her brother had not been paying attention and they did not have excellent reflexes that little girl would have been hit and thrown a very long distance,” Ms Rees said.

She said she wanted to see something done quickly. 

Ms Westlake said a major concern was the intersection at the corner of Sherrard and Chisholm streets, and the bend where Chisholm Street leads up to Black Hill.

“Some cars come around the bend very quickly,” she said.

She said pupils’ vision could be obstructed because there were numerous cars parking during drop-off and pick-up times and the road was busy and not as wide as others in the region.

Police media spokeswoman Belle Nolan said drivers should be aware children could be unpredictable.

“Reduced speed limits are in place around school zones to protect children, and drivers should be extra cautious when travelling through these areas,” Ms Nolan said.

She said drivers should ensure they drive safely and to the speed limit and conditions at all times. 

“Avoid distraction and be conscious of your surroundings and courteous of other road users,” Ms Nolan said.

“Police regularly run operations in school zones across the state and those caught doing the wrong thing should expect to be penalised.”

Ms Westlake said many families had developed their own strategies to avoid the traffic.

“Some stay around the school a bit longer and the children play on the playground to avoid the busy time.”

She said other children walked to Peel Street park, where they would be picked up, but that was an unsupervised area. 

Ms Westlake said the school council had been in discussions with the City of Ballarat about a drop-off point and other options.