Don't expect Mary Lin adminstrators to back off their decision to end student dropoffs next Monday from the northbound lane of Candler Park Drive or to reverse the elimination of voluntary crossing guards in front of the school.
That was the message of Principal Brian Mitchell during a special meeting of the Mary Lin Building Committee in the Lin auditorium Monday. Approximately 25 parents attended the midday meeting, as did Mitchell, Assistant Principal Ashley Adamo, the architect of the school's ongoing renovation and addition project, and our neighborhood's recently elected, soon-to-be School Board District Member Leslie Grant.
Of perhaps a dozen commenters, all but one or two were critical of Mitchell's decision, how it was decided or how it was communicated. As CPNO president, I read a statement requesting that the school delay the changes and strive to be more inclusive in future decisions that might affect the neighborhood. Read it here.
But Mitchell was firm. He told parent activists that they should advise other parents to change their behavior by using buses or by dropping their kids off around 7:30 am, before the traffic's backed up for southbound dropoff ... and to be patient. One father, a crossing guard, supported Mitchell by saying parents need to adjust their behavior even if it's inconvenient, because dropping off children across the street from their school is inherently unsafe.
While Mitchell initially announced last week that northbound dropoff needed to be eliminated to make room for teacher's parking spaces, he argued today that it's a non-negotiable move to enhance safety. The crosswalk in front of the school is striped and marked by city school xing signs. It's been operated for around a decade. But it apparently isn't an official city crosswalk. Asked why it was necessary to make the change so quickly, he said the administration is "leveraging" construction to close the crossing.
Mitchell did thank me for the statement and came up to me afterward to apologize for not engaging the neighborhood.
What will this mean for neighborhood traffic? My guess is that it'll clog up Oakdale Road and North Avenue as more parents funnel through those two streets to drop off their kids by heading south on Candler Park Drive. We'll see if that creates a bit of gridlock on the North Avenue stop signs. The northbound lane on Candler Park Drive may become less congested, but freer flowing traffic isn't likely to enhance the experience of parents and kids who are walking across the street to get to the school.
To me, the whole controversy also underscores how crucial it is that we work to implement priority projects on our Candler Park Master Plan. Among other improvements, the plan calls for two new crosswalks across Candler Park Drive and a sidewalk running the entire length of the eastern edge of Candler Park Drive. Prescient? Certainly. But it's too bad we can't get all those changes installed by next week.