P.K. Yonge insists traffic jams will ease as parents learn routine

Traffic is congested all the way out to Southwest 16th Avenue as parents arrive to pick up their children after school at P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School in Gainesville on Friday, August 30.

Erica Brough/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Tuesday, September 3, 2013 at 11:17 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, September 3, 2013 at 11:17 a.m.

Daily bottleneck traffic around the P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School has died down, administrators say, as parents get familiar with the standard pickup and dropoff routine.

“Now we’re flowing good,” said David Holt, the school’s director of operations, at the end of the second week of the new school year.

Holt said the first two weeks of pickup and dropoff are always more hectic because the school has to get parents of new students adjusted to the proper procedure.

Shaneka Young, who is one of these first-year parents, said she didn’t know what to expect initially but feels the school did a good job of training unfamiliar parents.

“I really like the organization of it,” she said.

At P.K. Yonge, there are 1,150 students in more than 870 families who are dropped off and picked up from school every day. There are no school buses to ferry students to and from school.

Out of the 1,150 students at P.K. Yonge, 180 were new to the school this year.

As the first few weeks of school pass, parents start to realize the earlier they get to school for dropoff the better, said Margaret Briggs, who has two children currently enrolled at P.K. Yonge and one who has graduated from the school.

“If you get here past 7:30, 7:40, 7:50 — you’re gonna sit here for 30 minutes,” she said.

School starts at 8:05 a.m. and lets out at 2:05 p.m., except for the elementary school, which lets out at 2:30 p.m.

Dr. Catherine Atria, the principal for kindergarten through 12th grade, said the school is more lenient with tardy students during the first few weeks of school while parents are adjusting to the morning routine, but tardiness usually isn’t an issue.

“Generally, during the course of the school year, we don’t have large numbers of tardies to begin with,” she said.

Every morning and afternoon, Atria is outside for pickup and dropoff. She said the traffic flows smoothly from 7:30 a.m. to 7:50 a.m. and vehicles are only waiting in line for two to three minutes. However, she said things can get a bit crowded for parents arriving later.

The roundabout in front of the school that parents pull into fits around 35 vehicles, Atria estimated.

To help keep things moving, the school resource officer as well as traffic officers from the University of Florida Police Department guide cars through the areas more prone to congestion.

“We try to keep this as uniform as possible so people can move without getting clogged up,” said Officer Will Sasser of UPD.

Atria said when P.K. Yonge was established in 1934, the area it is located in was not developed as a residential area. Now, decades later, a large amount of residential housing, such as apartments and condominiums, has been added to the area. She said this creates an additional layer of traffic.

“We still have the same number of kids coming to school here as we have had for decades, but the concentration of individuals living in the area has increased,” she said.

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