'It's Going To Get
Says Of Wait Times
BY KRISTEN BUCKLES
Please excuse the after-school delay -- improvements are underway in Mosheim.
That's the request officials with the Greene County School System are making of parents or other family members who drop off their students at Mosheim Elementary and Middle School and pick them up in the afternoon.
The procedure for families to drop-off and pick-up students at Mosheim is very different from the procedure used in past years. As a result, the waiting lines in both morning and afternoon have been very long.
Some parental complaints have been heard in the community since the first full day of school for the county system on Friday, Aug. 9.
Some complaints have been made directly to Director of Schools Dr. Vicki Kirk or other Central School Office staff. Two complaints have come to The Greeneville Sun.
The concerns have focused mainly on the length of time parents are having to wait in line to drop off and pick up their children this school year.
Callers to the Sun have said the waiting time in line for dropping off students or picking them up can be 45 minutes -- or a good deal more than that.
One caller said some parents are now getting in line more than an hour before school opens to try to be near the front.
Other related problems that have been mentioned in the calls to the Sun have been:
* It takes so long to drop off children in the morning that some children who normally have breakfast at school before classes start don't have enough time to do that. A father told the newspaper that that has been the case with his two daughters ever since last Friday.
* The wait required for dropping-off children is so long that it can make the parent driving the vehicle late for work at his/her job.
The caller mentioned above said that his wife, along with their two daughters, got in line about 7:15 one day early this week. The school opened at 7:20, and the children were dropped off at 7:50. But the mother's reporting time for her shift at work is 7:45.
* Waiting so long in line in the current hot weather makes operating the vehicle's air conditioning system pretty much necessary. But doing so is sometimes causing vehicles to overheat, besides the gasoline expense.
STUDENT SAFETY, SECURITY
School officials explained in interviews that student safety and security is the key reason behind the changes in procedure that have been made this year.
Mosheim Elementary and Middle School, which serves children from Pre-K through eighth grade, is the largest school facility in the county, with combined enrollment of about 1,000 students.
School officials believed that it would improve student safety if a way could be found to keep family-operated vehicles dropping off and picking up children from competing for space with the large school buses that also bring many students to school and take them home again.
So the school system opened a gravel roadway into the back entrance of the school for family drop-offs and pick-ups.
The main entrance to the school is from Mosheim's Main Street. The new, back entrance comes off Blue Springs Parkway.
"It's definitely an improvement," said Principal Wendy Carpenter. "We are loading [family-operated vehicles] from the back now, so as far as a safety issue, it's a lot easier. [And] it's a bigger space to hold more cars back there."
The plan for the back entrance also came from a desire to address the problem of backed-up traffic that had long plagued Mosheim's Main Street at the end of each school day, Kirk said.
KIRK: 'IT'LL GET SMOOTHER'
"It's the first couple days that we're doing this new procedure," Kirk explained on Monday in an interview. "It'll get smoother as we go along."
The director also noted that the school system is working with the Tennessee Highway Patrol and the Greene County Sheriff's Department to devise the best and safest methods of handling the drop-off and pick-up traffic.
Flashing lights and signs will soon be installed on Blue Springs Parkway where school traffic now enters the back of the school property.
"It's not been perfect, and we've known it hasn't," Kirk said. "We know it's an issue, and we are working on it."
Carpenter noted that the delays experienced on Friday were made worse by a car that broke down at the front of the line.
There were also an extra 100 vehicles that joined the line, she said, because it was the first day of school. More parents tend to pick up their children on the first day, she explained.
In addition, she said, the Boys & Girls Club of Greeneville & Greene County buses did not run that day. For that reason, the parents of the children who normally ride those buses to the Boys & Girls Club after school needed to come to the school to pick up their children.
NEW NUMBER SYSTEM
The principal also said that the school is using a new number system for matching children to their appropriate vehicle, and getting that new system working smoothly is taking some adjustment time.
In the afternoon, parents begin lining up outside the school by 1:30 p.m. out of a desire to be at the front of the line, Carpenter said.
However, by Tuesday, after students had become more familiar with the new system, the car line was cleared by 3:20 p.m., just about 35 minutes after students were released at 2:45, she said.
"We get the first 50 cars out in no time [although] it did take a bit longer [Tuesday] because it was pouring down rain," she said.
"It's going to get better -- there is no doubt in my mind it will get better," Carpenter added.
"Be patient with us -- that's all I ask. If it is not working in two weeks, we will definitely take care of it."