Forestbrook Elementary traffic causing safety concerns to parents, school

Forestbrook Elementary traffic causing safety concerns to parents, school


Every day, between 2:20 p.m. and 2:50 p.m., Panther Parkway in front of Forestbrook Elementary School is what parents and the school call a "chaotic mess".

A new dismissal policy has parents waiting in line longer, and they're not happy about it.

But Principal David Cupolo says it's in the name of student safety.

In previous years, parents would park and walk to the front of the school where kids and teachers would be waiting outside, but it wasn't organized.

There are more than 900 students at Forestbrook Elementary.

And there was no way for the school to know if the right person was picking up a student.

"There was major safety concern in teachers,


Forestbrook Elementary School Principal David Cupolo says.


It wasn't one teacher, it wasn't two teachers. I had them do an activity, and that was the number one thing they came up with was they did not feel safe at dismissal and they didn't feel safe for their students and they want it to be organized. They were afraid the wrong person was going to get a child."

So, when he became principal this year, parents got a choice: they can park in the parking lot and walk to pick up kids from the gymnasium, or they can pull around to the front of the school and wait in line.

Parents who drive up to the school have an identifier on their car.

They proceed group by group and students are called out in those groups until all the students have been released to their parent, but it takes longer.zz

So traffic on Panther Parkway backs up and has some parents protesting the dismissal policy. Principal Cupolo wants to solve the congestion problem, and is taking steps to make improvements.

He has asked the school district if construction could be done to move the school bus loading zone to the opposite side of the building. By doing so, the whole area, currently blocked to parents, could be available for drop-off and pick-up for parent drivers. He believes it would significantly help the congestion.

"There is a lot of traffic,” Cupolo says. “And unfortunately, for some of the parents to access the parking lot, they're crossing the double yellow line, which creates a safety concern for those that are in line waiting, and cars that are pulling out of the parking lot or buses."

Cupolo and parents say other parents being very aggressive, yelling at each other and trying to skip the traffic by driving up the double yellow lines on Panther Parkway. Neighbors who live around there tell me they completely avoid the area when the school dismisses for the day.

It wasn't always so bad. "Because there was somebody there directing traffic,” says Bill Fieschel, who lives in a neighborhood beside the elementary school. “This year, there's nobody here. These people are going in and coming out and it's just… it's just a horror."

Cupolo was informed before taking over the principal job this year that the crossing job position can no longer be funded by the school. "We've asked for a volunteer, off-duty officer to be paid and come and assist us, and we've put many request in. And unfortunately we have no volunteers."

While he waits to hear back from the district on moving the bus loading zone, Cupolo is bringing in a consultant to look at the school layout to try and get ideas about how to help the congestion. He says aside from the traffic, the dismissal time is only a half hour from when the bell rings and the more than 900 students are safely released.
He says the administration is happy to hear from parents with suggestions that could help improve the traffic.

Copyright 2014 WMBF News. All rights reserved.