New traffic patterns for dropping off and picking up students are coming to PENNCREST schools, and one parent voiced her concerns at this week's school board work session.
Rachel Olszewski, a parent of a student at Cambridge Springs Elementary School, spoke at Monday's work session, bringing up potential issues from the new traffic patterns at the school.
The traffic pattern for the 2019-20 school year has students at Cambridge Springs Elementary being dropped off at the rear entrance to the building off Steele Street, making a loop near the rear parking lot and turning back onto Steele Street. The pickup has parents parking in the lot next to the school’s rear entrance, coming into the building and signing out their child. Cambridge Springs is the only PENNCREST school that had not previously required signing out students prior to the upcoming school year.
Olszewski said she likes to see her 6-year-old son enter the building, and her son has to go into the school behind her as she makes the loop out. She also said she helps her son with his backpack and equipment, which takes time, and others wishing to drop off students have to wait instead of driving around.
Olszewski also pointed out that there are signs prohibiting buses from idling at the school, but in picking up students, according to the traffic pattern, they line up along the rear of the building, which she said was near windows. She also voiced safety concerns about the “paved path” to the pickup/dropoff entrance in the wintertime.
District Superintendent Timothy Glasspool said the Cambridge Springs campus, which also includes the junior-senior high school, was the impetus for redesigning all of the traffic patterns for maximum efficiency. He said the district worked with a traffic engineer, the bus service, building principals, new plant and transportation supervisor David Dickson and others to get suggestions and perspectives.
Glasspool acknowledged the slope of the entrance area as a safety concern. He also said it was a top concern to implement signing out students at Cambridge Springs.
“The main thing with this, if you’ll notice, with pickup/dropoff is you keep the buses and the students separate,” Glasspool said. “This isn’t Tim Glasspool’s decision or the board’s decision. This is something that we’ve implemented after talking to as many individuals as we could.”
Board member Robert Gulick asked about the liability concerns for parents not being able to see students enter the school building, but it was brought up there are staff members at the top and bottom of the sloped entrance area.
Dickson said there would be designated parent parking there for those focused on unloading children and their supplies for the day.
Board member Jason Bakus shared his own experience when traffic patterns changed at Maplewood Elementary School.
“It takes some time,” Bakus said. “They’ll get the hang out it. They’ll loop in and loop out. It’s a work in progress, but that piece does get a little easier.”
Glasspool said the district will have line striping, signage and big printouts for open houses, trying to get out the information. He also admitted there are “unique challenges” for each school, but he maintained the new traffic patterns would be "better."
“There’s always going to be some adjustments,” Glasspool said. “But I hope you understand the decisions weren’t made in isolation.”
For information regarding all the changes in pickup and dropoff locations and bus locations, visit penncrest.org/district/news and find the "Welcome Back From Transportation" heading posted on July 30.
Tyler Dague can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at email@example.com.