The mounds of dirt that have dotted Cayuga Heights Elementary School’s parking lot over the summer have been replaced with fresh asphalt, but once the paving job is complete, parents will face new traffic patterns and student drop-off routines for the upcoming academic year.
Superintendent Jeffrey Rabey on Tuesday night updated the Depew Board of Education on the new Parent Drop-Off Loop, which is designed to enhance safety for students and staff. The loop behind the school is the result of a recent safety and security audit conducted in the aftermath of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012 in Newtown, Conn., which took the lives of 20 students and six staff members.
Rabey said that with hundreds of students pouring into Cayuga Heights in the morning, it was difficult to track parents and other adults who also were entering the building.
“The result of our audit indicated that we were in need of some critical adjustments with regard to the level of access that we allow at our elementary building throughout the day,” he said.
When school begins Sept. 5, parents will be required to use the service road to enter the new Parent Drop-Off Loop behind the building. Students must be dropped off at the curb of the loop, and parents will then exit via the service road toward Como Park Boulevard.
Other rules will govern where parents can park and which doors they can use to enter the building during the day. From 8:45 to 9:15 a.m. and from 3 to 3:20 p.m., parents must drive through the loop, park in the designated visitors spaces and enter the building through the designated cafeteria door. From 9:15 a.m. to 3 p.m., parents must park in the front lot and enter the front doors. Parents also will be required to check in with a greeter, show proper identification, sign in and sign out.
Rabey said that the procedures will be evaluated over the first several weeks and adjusted as necessary.
“Please know that the changes to these specific procedures are necessary for the safety and security of all our children, faculty and staff,” he said.
More information, including a question-and-answer page, will be posted on the district’s website at www.depewschools.org.
Board member Michael Fusani expressed concerns that sharing the changes on the Internet might not be as effective as hosting live informational meetings, and Rabey suggested that the information could be discussed during upcoming orientation sessions.
The changes are part of the $15.9 million capital improvement project that was approved by voters in May 2011. Other portions of the project completed over the summer include music, art, nurse’s, science and technology rooms at the high school; the cafeteria, kitchen, central copy room and Family and Consumer Sciences and technology classrooms at the middle school; and improvements to the bus garage and grounds.
School Board President Dave Sheff said the only portion of the capital improvement project that will not be completed before school begins is the new gymnasium at Cayuga Heights.