The General McLane School District decided to put in place a new traffic pattern between James W. Parker Middle School and General McLane High School. This change was put in place on March 2, 2020, with warning over the weekend.
It may seem that the school district made a quick decision to put this rule in place, but Nancy Ekstrom, Transportation Services Manager stated that, “[We] spent several days observing what was going on in the parking lot.” Ekstrom, school resource officer Jose Montes, and school bus instructor coordinator Eric Lathrop put their “heads together to come up with the current procedure.”
The main reason this new procedure was put in place was because of safety reasons. “The drivers came to me with several concerns,” Ekstrom stated. This new procedure is not a short-term solution and “will last as long as we are getting a good result or until someone has a better way,” Ekstrom added.
There is a document on the district’s website explaining the new parking and drop-off procedures. A Schoology message from High School Associate Principal Pam Mackowski on Feb. 28 clarified the changes for student drivers. It explained that during the 15 minutes between 7:30 & 7:45 a.m., the driveway along the south side of the building will be closed to all traffic. Therefore, all student drivers must enter the north drive and proceed around the back of the high school to park. Middle school drop offs must use General McLane Drive both entering and exiting the campus, which means if a high school student has a younger sibling who attends the middle school, they must drop them off at the front of the school, exit via General McLane Drive and re-enter the campus via the north drive before parking their car. They may not allow younger siblings to walk through the parking lot or at the end of the sidewalk near the stadium. Student drivers may not cut through the parking lot to park after dropping middle school students off.
Many parents are pleased with the new rule. Ekstrom stated that, “[She] received a couple of compliments from parents on how much better it flows.” Not only are the parents pleased with the change, but “the [bus] drivers are very appreciative too,” Ekstrom said.
Some students have different opinions on the change. Noelle Lipinski, a freshman who rides with her mom, a GMHS employee, does not like the new rule. “We would normally park on the side [of the school] but now we can’t,” Lipinski explained. Freshman Emma Kulisek, who rides to school with another high school student, thinks, “The rule is stupid because we can’t cut accros the middle school parking lot to the high school. Since the new rule has been enforced, it takes too much time to go back out on the main road.”
John Gersims is a bus driver and maintenance worker for the district. Regarding the recent change, he commented, “[Students] that are driving have to understand the big picture. 95 percent of the parents do what they are supposed to do. They go the way they are supposed to go to drop their middle school kids off, but it’s the ones that do not that ruin it for everyone. It is a safety issue.”