The Hesperia Unified School District's two newest schools opened on Monday to great fanfare. But both Krystal Elementary School and Oak Hills High School are experiencing some traffic-related growing pains.

"We live north of Ranchero," said Tanya Castillo on Tuesday. "Our little son, he's in 5th grade, he wanted to walk to school, because he's so close to school now. I said, heavens no, because it's so busy."

The nearest intersection to Krystal Elementary School for Castillo and son -- and many others who live north of the school -- to cross at is the intersection of Ranchero Road and Farmdale Avenue. But it's not a four-way stop and the speed limit along Ranchero before and after the intersection is 45 miles per hour (it's 35 right at the intersection now). And there's no crosswalk.

Castillo asked a school official who said that the roads were the city's jurisdiction. She called the city and they said it wasn't safe to put in a crosswalk there, citing the hills that block line of sight to the intersection and the high speed of motorists traveling through.

"So neither one of them is taking responsibility, and they're putting it off on the other one," she said.

There are two problems facing the HUSD and city of Hesperia: First, while Ranchero Road might not have been a high-speed corridor when the land for Krystal Elementary was purchased, almost a decade ago, it certainly is now. Secondly, the Ranchero and Farmdale intersection is three-quarters of a mile away, so state funds for improving the intersection aren't available to the school district, because state guidelines don't consider it to be in the school's immediate vicinity.

"When the city became aware that grading had begun at the site, we approached the district with concerns about traffic impact at the site, which of course includes student safety," city spokeswoman Kelly Malloy said Wednesday. "Unfortunately, because of the high speed and the limited line of sight, it isn't safe to put in a crosswalk and a stop sign at Farmdale and Ranchero."

"The school out there, maybe eight, nine years ago, it was out in the middle of nowhere, and that's not the case any more," said HUSD superintendent Mark McKinney on Wednesday. "It's truly in the middle of a neighborhood and it's going to continue to develop as well."

Adding a traffic light at Ranchero and Farmdale would stop traffic and allow a crosswalk to be placed there. But a traffic light at the location could cost up to $300,000, according to the HUSD's Assistant Superintendent of Business Services David McLaughlin.

"We could not get funds from the state to do just that," said McKinney.

Oak Hills High School

On the other side of town, parents of Oak Hills High School students have voiced a similar concern. Like Krystal students, Oak Hills students have limited ways to get in and out of their campus. Oak Hills High has a nearby major intersection at Ranchero Road and Escondido Avenue that's served by a two-way stop and which sees highway speeds by motorists much of the day, but which has turned into Los Angeles-style gridlock this week with the new high school's opening.

Some of these problems are temporary, said Dick Gary, the HUSD's Director of Maintenance and Operations.

"Part of that is the first few days of school, we typically get a lot more people driving their kids to school," Gary said Wednesday. "Every school, to be honest, the first week of school is the worst."

Improvements are coming for traffic going and out of Oak Hills High School.

"The traffic at Oak Hills, the street improvements aren't finished yet," said Gary. A traffic light will be going in at the intersection of Cataba and Ranchero Road, and more than 340 feet of Ranchero Road along the school will be widened to six lanes.

"We're hoping for two to three weeks," he said. "We still have one Edison [power] line in the way, underground, that's holding things up."

As for Krystal Elementary School, solutions are coming as well, but officials aren't sure exactly what they will be, or how soon they can be implemented.

"Even this week, [City Manager Mike Podegracz] and I talked about it," said McKinney. "I want to meet with Mike and put our heads together, put staffs' heads together, and see how fast we can come up with a solution."

"We're working with the school district and hopeful that they will be able to propose other options, but at this point, we feel that putting in a crosswalk especially would be dangerous to the students," said Malloy.

"These are our kids, for Pete's sake!" said Castillo. "This is something that should have been thought out."

Beau Yarbrough can be reached at 956-7108 or at beau@hesperiastar.com.