By Jessica Maher Reporter-Herald Staff Writer
For most, the first day of school doesn’t include a mock pickup session like the one Loveland Classical Schools students and teachers participated in Tuesday. But most schools haven’t experienced the first-day traffic challenges that Loveland Classical went through last year.
When the public charter school opened its doors last year, dismissal of students on the first day of class led to frustration and congestion along Southwest 14th Street and long waits for parents picking up their children. Within a month of opening, the school made several changes that cut down congestion and wait times.
“It was working out pretty well after the week or two last year; they worked their bugs out,” Sgt. Bob Shaffer of the Loveland Police Department traffic unit said.
But with an additional 150 students enrolled for the 2012-13 school year, staff and volunteers met throughout the summer to make a new plan.
“We had problems the first day and we made changes,” David Yu, Loveland Classical Schools Executive Director of Education said Tuesday. “We had an increase in student numbers and so we wanted to make it even better.”
Previously, guardians would circle the building counterclockwise to pickup children in front of the building and drivers would then cross parking lot traffic to exit. That cross section has been eliminated, with only kindergartners situated in front of the building. First through fifth graders line up with their classes to wait for parents, who now circle the perimeter of the building and all exit the same way, with the exception of the kindergarten population.
“It’s become a merging rather than a crossing,” Yu said.
There are now two lanes of loading zone traffic and parents know which to use depending on their student’s grade level. Parents learned about the new system during back-to-school night and younger students participated in a mock-pickup two hours before school was dismissed on Tuesday.
“We’ve made things just much more smooth,” Yu said.
As was the case throughout last school year, Loveland Classical relies on volunteers to assist students during pickup and drop off times.
“I think that we’ve remedied some conflicts on-site here in increasing the efficiency and the safety so we’re not impacting 14th Street as much,” volunteer traffic coordinator John Seyer said.
Yu was pleased with the new traffic patterns on Tuesday and a pickup process that was easier and faster. He expects the system to remain in place, with some minor adjustments here and there, for the rest of the school year.
Loveland Police officers did not receive any complaints about traffic around the school on Tuesday, Shaffer said.