CALVERTON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — “Not in the job description” might be an understatement for one superintendent on Long Island who’s stepped in to direct traffic outside of his school.
He might be wearing a bright orange vest, and he may be waving his hands in oncoming traffic, but Raymond Ankrum is far from a traffic agent. He’s the head of Riverhead Charter School.
“Since the beginning of school I’ve been the traffic guy,” he said. He smiles at the title, but takes the task very seriously.
The entrance to his school sits on busy State Rt. 25, or Middle County Road as it’s known to the locals. Ankrum says on the first day of school cars were backed all the way to the traffic light.
That’s when he decided to take matters into his own hands.
“The first day I got here I saw the superintendent out there, I thought that was really odd,” said Calverton resident Khatisier Mardice.
In the past, the Riverhead Town Police Department manned the intersection with crossing guards and officers to manage the flow of buses and cars. This year, a guard was hit by a driver near the corner. Chief David Hagermiller tells CBS2 the safest solution is for the school to come up with a permanent traffic pattern fix that doesn’t include a human.
“This is not just a Calverton issue, it’s a nationwide issue in which charter schools don’t get the attention public schools get,” Ankrum said.
The superintendent started a change.org petition addressed to Governor Cuomo that’s snagged about 600 signatures. A representative from the state’s Department of Transportation tells CBS2 “the DOT reduced the speed limit in 2009… the location has school warning signs and pavement markings for pedestrians.”
CBS2’s crew looked into it, and the closest visible street sign was for deer crossing. There were no pedestrian crosswalk signs in eyeshot. As for the speed limit, 50 miles-per-hour is clearly marked just one tenth of a mile from the school.
“There’s a school here, people need to be aware of it,” Mardice said. “50 miles-per-hour is ridiculous.”
Chief Hagermiller says he’s asked the state to make the area a school zone for more than a decade and as recently as April received a resounding “no.”
The DOT says its studying options to enhance the traffic safety near the school.