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First Day Primary School Traffic Logjams

Board of Education Chairman Roger Ogilvie opened Monday’s August board meeting by commending school staff, especially at the primary school, for the work they did at Friday’s opening day of school to deal with severe problems at the primary school when parents came to pick up their children at the end of the day.
“It was a quick decision we had to make and you took a bad situation and made it work,” he said.
He praised Primary Principal Ginger White and her staff, and pointed out that Superintendent Chris Roppe, Transportation Director Alvin Merritt, school resource officers and other personnel worked to get the students out of school as soon as possible.
“My hat is off to you,” Ogilvie said.
Unfortunately, the logjam caused by efforts to implement a new pick-up procedure at the school caused hundreds of students to wait on their busses in Friday’s extreme heat while parents in private vehicles picked up their children at the school.
After Friday’s problems, school officials agreed to return to the older method of student pickup and Monday there were no problems at the school.
The problem began late last year when some citizens living on Rogers Street next to the school complained to City of Hazlehurst officials about people parking their vehicles on Rogers Street while they went inside to pick up their K-2 children.
City Commissioner John Bloodworth, who lives on Rogers Street, said this week that last year there were two incidents where people backed out of their driveways on Rogers Street and hit vehicles parked to pick up students. He said neighbors had come to his house a number of times to discuss the issue and that prompted him to contact Principal White late last school year.
Subsequent meetings were held with Principal White, Superintendent Roppe, Transportation Director Merritt, Assistant Superintendent of Operations Chuck Crosby, Councilman Bloodworth, Police Chief Ken Williams and Mayor Bayne Stone.
In the July 31 Back To School Issue, it was announced that the school’s pickup procedure would be the same as the previous year: Kindergarten pickup would begin at the bus ramp at 2:45, 1st and 2nd grade pickup would begin in the front of the school at 2:45 and bus students would load at 3:05, allowing 20 minutes for private vehicle pickup, divided into two locations.
While Councilman Bloodworth and Chief Williams said they were under the impression that a new pick up procedure would not be decided on until December, school officials were under the impression that a new procedure had to be in place on the first day of school.
The quick decision Chairman Ogilvie referred to at Monday’s meeting, wasn’t reached until two days before Friday’s opening of school.
The new plan, aimed at eliminating parking on Rogers Street, funneled all pickup traffic, K-2 into the bus ramp beginning at 2:45. Roppe estimated that over 400 parents came to the school in private vehicles Friday afternoon. The resulting logjam turned the 20-minute procedure of the past into a more than 90-minute procedure with some parents unable to get into the bus ramp until well at 4 p.m.
Meanwhile, bus drivers had to wait with children from the system’s other four schools already on board.
While the school has returned to its former method of after school pickup, school and city officials will continue to look at the situation and come to a final decision in December.

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