No parking area
Monterey students' idea becomes law
Fourth-grade students in Lindsey Profera's class at Monterey Elementary School spent October and November learning about government and how bills become laws.
One of the laws the students "passed" in class -- to post no-parking signs at the crosswalk on Dennis Lane near the school -- became reality Dec. 1. On that day, thanks to the students' initiative, the city placed signs at the crosswalk banning parking there between 2 and 3 p.m. on school days.
Violators of the new restriction are subject to parking tickets.
As part of their government unit, students were asked to think about an issue or problem around school that concerned them and to draft a proposed bill to address the matter, Profera said.
"I split the class into the three branches of government -- legislative, executive and judicial -- and each branch performed their specific role in the process," she said. "The legislative branch debated and voted on the laws, the executive branch signed it and the judicial branch reviewed them to make sure they were constitutional."
The class used the state of Ohio as its model for conducting its business, Profera said.
The no-parking law passed by Profera's class was a compromise of sorts -- a combining of what the students thought were the best elements of separate bills written by Carter Binford and Bret Wilson.
Binford and Wilson both decided something needed to be done about cars parking in or near the crosswalk from their experience on Monterey's safety patrol helping other students cross Dennis Lane safely.
"We've seen so many cars that were parking near to or on the crosswalk," Binford said.
"If even one car was parked there, it would give us trouble helping people cross safely,"Wilson said.
At times, safety patrol members and other students would have to peer around parked cars to make sure it was safe to cross, Binford said.
There were some close calls, with students almost getting hit by cars, Wilson said.
Parents were parking in or near the crosswalk and leaving their vehicles to pick up their children as school was being dismissed, Monterey Principal Brian Baker said.
In addition to the hazard they caused students, the cars also were getting in the way of school buses, he said.
Binford, who served as a member of the House of Representatives, wrote a bill proposing signs be posted to prohibit vehicles from stopping or parking between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. in the affected zone.
Wilson, a senator, wrote legislation to restrict parking from 2:45 to 7 p.m.
While Wilson's bill passed the Senate, both bills were tabled by the House, which led to the effort to craft a compromise version.
Working together to create a final bill that could pass wasn't hard, "since we had the same goal in mind," Wilson said.
Getting the bill through the judicial branch was a challenge, Binford said.
"They were really picky," he said.
The process took a lot longer than he expected, Wilson said, and it has given him a better understanding of the hurdles real legislators have to clear to get a law enacted.
"The students' bill is what brought the issue to my attention, and when I spent a few days monitoring (the crosswalk area), I saw what they were talking about," Baker said.
"That led me to having some conversations" with the school's police officers, Brian Strawser and Misty Hutchinson, he said.
"We took some pictures that were able to prove to the officers that this was a problem," and that ultimately led to the city posting the signs.
Profera said she wanted her students to get a real-life lesson about government and how it works, rather than one from a textbook.
Out of the 23 bills her students drafted, only about four or five made it through all three branches of government and became "law."
"It shows how seriously the students were taking their responsibilities," she said.