Drivers to beef up school budgets?

June 11, 2010 9:39:11 PM PDT
A North Carolina Representative says he is sponsoring a plan that will get back hundreds of millions of dollars that was diverted from schools to the state and offer safer roads in the meantime.Over the course of eight years, the state illegally diverted nearly $750 million in fines and fees from schools to help fill other budget needs.

Representative Rick Glazier wasn't in the legislature then, but is now sponsoring a bill to help repay some of the money to the schools and increase road safety in the meantime.

Senate Bill 269, calls for a pilot program that would put speed cameras in work zones and school zones on state maintained roads.

"This is a way for us to try to repay that money," Glazier said. "As a member of the legislature it's an obligation, we have to obey the law. The state has to obey the law just as we expect every citizen to."

But many wonder if drivers are willing to pay up for the state's mistakes?

"I think we do need speed cameras there, but for the right reasons, for safety," driver Steve Reed said. "Not because we're trying to make up money that's been lost or that's been wasted."

And parents like Steve Miller, who are worried about the safety of school and construction zones, agree.

A speeder hit his daughter, Phoebe Miller, outside Athens Drive High School in February. Her father, the assistant principal, was one of the first on the scene.

"She was just distorted and screaming in pain," Miller said.

He says he even called his wife and told her the outlook did not look good for their daughter.

"This may be the last time that you have the opportunity to talk with her," Miller told his wife. "It looked so bad."

Thankfully, the high school freshman survived.

However just last week, a 21-year-old DOT worker wasn't as lucky.

Jonathan King died when a distracted trucker hit him in a Duplin County work zone.

Miller says increased safety is still an urgent need, even though a well-marked crosswalk, new flashing lights and flags that has been installed in front of his daughter's school leaves no doubt it's a 25 mph school zone.

"I have to ... put myself in a position so that traffic can see me," he says.

Miller says that's why he supports the speed cam legislation and any added safety it would bring.

The bill is still working its way through the legislature and if approved it would start with eight speed cameras in work zones and eight in school zones on state maintained roads.

The fines will go toward technology for public schools across the state and it will come in handy, because the state has said it doesn't know if, or when, it'll be able to repay the $750 million.

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