MJT to change dismissal time

B y Krystle S. Morey

School officials have come up with a plan they say will address the years-long issue of traffic congestion at Mary J. Tanner School in Middle Granville.
Starting Jan. 3, walkers – the students who are picked up and dropped off at school by a parent or guardian – will be dismissed at 2:35 p.m., instead of 2:45 p.m.
Pickup and drop off has historically been a problem at Mary J. Tanner because of the lack of parking and the congestion of cars trying to exit school grounds as busses are entering.
“The traffic pattern here, with arrival and dismissal … it’s been a challenge,” said Keith LaLone, MJT principal.
School board president Audrey Hicks agreed: “It’s been an age-old problem since I had children coming here, so I hope that it works out. It sounds like a good plan.”
LaLone and the Granville Central School District Safety Committee have spent the school year examining the congestion issue. LaLone presented the idea to the school board at its December meeting. The district safety committee is made up of several school officials including LaLone, superintendent Mark Bessen and school resource officer Dave Williams.
Dismissing walkers 10 minutes earlier, he said, will help relieve the traffic problem both on and off school grounds and help ensure the safety of students as they are being released from school.
The new plan also eliminates the need for parents to park their vehicles to retrieve their children from the school cafeteria. Daily, cars are parked on State Route 22 and County Route 23 near the school because of the lack of parking space at the school.
“Ultimately I think this will create a safer condition for the drivers and the kids,” he said of the 30-40 vehicles that pick up and drop off kids at the school each day.
He added: “The kids are already picked up between 2:35-2:40 p.m. from their classrooms to go to the cafeteria to be signed out … parents can pick up between 2:35-2:45 p.m. by just pulling up instead of having to park.”
LaLone said the congestion has gotten to a point where parents are arriving at the school early to avoid traffic when picking up their children.
“We’re trying to alleviate some of that too,” he said.
Students will be lined up by grade level in the hallway near the loading and unloading zone. As parents drive up to the side entrance, supervising staff will mark the child’s name from a checklist and release the child to the vehicle. Parents will be permitted to assist their children with seatbelts and buckles as needed.
Vehicles will then exit the school grounds to the right to State Route 22. When busses begin to arrive, at approximately 2:45 p.m., the traffic flow leaving the school will be stopped so the busses can safely enter the parking lot. Parents can exit the parking lot to the left once busses are parked.
The morning arrival routine is very similar to the new dismissal plan.
“I think we need to try something and if we need to try something … and we’ll monitor it. If we need to adjust it, we will,” said LaLone, who was hired in April 2016.
Parents received a notice in the mail last week regarding the dismissal change. Any parents or guardians with questions or concerns about the dismissal change should contact LaLone at 518- 642-9460.

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