One by one, vehicles moved along in a line Friday, driving slowly as they approached the makeshift circle in the lower corner of the Duanesburg Elementary School parking lot.
It was at the circle that parents stopped the car and a teacher or school staff member called out a child’s name. The child would then walk over to get in the vehicle and it would drive around the circle and back out the parking lot.
Behind those cars and around the parking spaces the buses would pull in.
It’s a very tight squeeze for everyone, said Superintendent James Niedermeier. The traffic problem for drop off and pick up is what led the school district to propose a $1.4 million capital project that would build a new parking loop for buses in the back of the school near the athletic fields.
The district will introduce the public to the project and field its questions about it Tuesday evening during a public information session at 6:30 p.m. in the high school’s Joe Bena Hall.
“The plan is to get the buses out of the equation entirely,” he said.
The new loop would be where buses would pick up and drop off students. It would also serve as the area for athletic buses to go, easing that issue as well, said Principal Andrea Conover.
“It can get chaotic,” Conover said when buses from other schools are arriving for games and the school is in the middle of the pick up process.
Part of the reason it’s become more congested is more parents are driving their children to and from school, Neidermeier said.
The school has 334 kids attending it.
It can become increasingly overwhelming for parents, especially if it’s their first time picking up and dropping off, Conover said.
She said a parent unknowingly got stuck between two buses in line and had to be directed to a parking space.
It’s also a safety issue if kids don’t enter the car from the right side–facing away from traffic.
“Luckily we’ve had a lot of quick-thinking staff jump out in front of slow moving cars,” Conover said.
While no one has ever gotten hurt, Conover said they don’t want to run the risk either.
Neidermeier said taxpayers will vote on the project on Sept. 23 from 1 to 9 p.m. If it passes, the district will have an architect draw up plans and send them to the state Department of Education for approval. If everything goes smoothly, Neidermeier said he hopes to begin construction in spring 2022 and hopefully see it completed for use by fall 2022.
The cost of construction is covered by unused funds the school already has, meaning there will not be any impact on taxpayers, Neidermeier said.
He said he doesn’t anticipate the measure failing, as many parents have indicated they want a change.
“It’s been needed for some time,” he said.