Mitchell: Investing in our children — our future

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It is hard to believe a new school year is about to begin as students and parents begin the annual process of gathering supplies, purchasing clothes and making plans for new schedules.

Many of our public school districts and private school campuses start the 22-23 academic year as early as August 8 through the following few weeks.

As preparations are underway, we should not forget those who could use a little extra help. Inflation has hit all of our pocketbooks, especially those who have tight budgets. With costs for school supplies, clothing, shoes, and even haircuts a little more expensive this year than last, we have several opportunities to either help others, receive a little assistance ourselves or even take advantage of the sales tax holiday Aug. 5-7. You can find out more details about the sales tax holiday from the State Comptroller’s Office here: comptroller.texas.gov/taxes/publications/98-490

Our school officials work closely with area non-profits, joining yet other organizations to create opportunities for free school supplies, haircuts, immunizations and other needs. The Lewisville Independent School District last year changed its format to offer free backpacks, immunizations, eye exams and sports physicals at each individual campus – something they will do again this year. If you have a student attending a Lewisville ISD campus, be sure to check your school’s website page to find out the latest on these opportunities. Visit www.lisd.net/btss for information on how to become a sponsor, make a donation, volunteer or register for supplies. Last year, an estimated 4,000 backpacks filled with 253,000 supplies were provided to students.

We are blessed to have so many organizations working together to provide the basic needs for every student to start their school year with everything they need to achieve success. If you know of someone who could use a little assistance, please share this information or, if you know them well, consider picking up an extra set of school supplies or provide a gift card for a few new school outfits.

As school bells once again ring, it is also important for all of us to be extra vigilant as we drive through our communities where children walk, bike or ride the bus to and from school. And, as time consuming as it may seem, those 20 mph school zones are in place for good reason – the safety of all children.

The National Safety Council offers a few safety tips for parents to keep in mind this and every school year:

Walking to school

  • Review your family’s walking safety rules and practice walking to school with your child
  • Walk on the sidewalk, if one is available; when on a street with no sidewalk, walk facing the traffic Before you cross the street, stop and look left, right and left again to see if cars are coming
  • Make eye contact with drivers before crossing and always cross streets at crosswalks or intersections
  • Stay alert and avoid distracted walking

Riding a bicycle to school

  • Teach your child the rules of the road and practice riding the bike route to school with your child
  • Ride on the right side of the road, with traffic, and in single file
  • Come to a complete stop before crossing the street; walk bikes across the street
  • Stay alert and avoid distracted riding
  • Make sure your child always wears a properly fitted helmet and bright clothing

Riding the bus to school

  • Teach your children school bus safety rules and practice with them
  • Go to the bus stop with your child to teach them the proper way to get on and off the bus
  • Teach your children to stand six feet (or 3 giant steps) away from the curb
  • If your child must cross the street in front of the bus, teach him or her to walk on the side of the road until they are 10 feet ahead of the bus; your child and the bus driver should always be able to see each other

Driving your child to school

  • Stay alert and avoid distracted driving
  • Obey school zone speed limits and follow your school’s drop-off procedure
  • Make eye contact with children who are crossing the street

School Safety

Many school-related injuries are completely preventable. Follow these steps to ensure your child’s safety at school:

Preventing backpack-related injuries

  • Choose a backpack for your child carefully; it should have ergonomically designed features to enhance safety and comfort
  • Ask your child to use both straps when wearing their backpack to evenly distribute the weight on their shoulders
  • Don’t overstuff a backpack; it should weigh no more than 5 to 10 percent of your child’s body weight
  • Rolling backpacks should be used cautiously since they can create a trip hazard in crowded school hallways

Preventing playground-related injuries

  • To reduce strangulation hazards on playgrounds, have your child leave necklaces and jackets with drawstrings at home

All of this is to help everyone have a wonderful school year. Together, we can collectively make sure our children experience a year filled with learning, making new friends, and having a safe and fun-filled time. Everything we can do to support them is an investment – these children are our future.

If you have any questions or comments, please let me hear from you. My email is [email protected] and my office number is 972-434-4780.