Since the beginning of the school year there has been a new addition to after-school pickup: traffic guards.
The guards are part of an effort by head of school Lee Thomsen to increase the size of the student body.
When the conditional use permit for the size of the school expired around a year ago, in addition to renewing it, the school (led by headmaster Stephen Repsher) petitioned the city to increase the maximum size of the high school to 250 students.
The current permit allows the school to have, at maximum, 550 students and at most 144 students in the high school. (This year there are 482 students enrolled.)
“When the neighbors learned about this, they were unhappy and began raising what are very real issues around parking and traffic,” Thomsen said.
Thomsen said that the neighbors’ main concern was the traffic caused by pick-up and drop-off. This is because the traffic increases on Latham Drive in both directions make it very difficult to leave the neighborhood, he said.
To combat this problem, Thomsen introduced traffic guards. The guards are from the same company, Smartguard Security, that the school employs for regular campus security in the evening.
Thomsen said that at the beginning of the school year, the school had traffic guards in both the morning and afternoon, but it now has guards only in the afternoon.
Giselle, the usual traffic guard, said that she and the other guards are at the school from 3:15 p.m- 3:35 p.m..
The guard’s’ job is to help keep traffic flowing through pick-up time and to also prevent parents from parking along both sides of Latham Drive when they’re picking up students because the rules of the permit are that parents must pick up children in the school parking lot.
Giselle said that most of the problems happen during the beginning of her time at the school. Usually, if she can see that the person who is violating a rule is currently in their car and briefly waiting, she won’t approach them about the violation. However if someone parks and gets out of the car, Giselle will approach them.
The guards inform parents of the rules but can’t give citations.
Giselle said that now almost nobody creates an issue by parking where they shouldn’t.
Thomsen said that parents have mostly been respectful of the guards, though a few have ignored them or have been impolite.
The guards will be discontinued when there are “no more issues with traffic and parking,” he said.
—By David Situ