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Picking up students at school doesn’t have to be a nightmare

Ah, the first day of school. A time for hugs, tears, photos and the release of the road-rage monster because there are only 40 parking spots and 200 people who want them.

More than 300,000 kids went back to school on Monday. About two-thirds of them either walked or got picked up by someone.

This leads to long, long lines of cars. Many people get frustrated. They park and wait in the street, where they’re not supposed to, in the driving lanes or in no parking zones.

Or they just abandon pretense altogether and leave their cars in the drop-off and pickup lane. This is a big no-no. That traffic needs to keep moving.

“You need to move your vehicles immediately,” the loudspeaker at Bozarth Elementary school in northwest Las Vegas blared Monday afternoon. It was 2:09 p.m., two minutes before the bell let the kids out.

“These vehicles,” the speaker said, “are blocking the kiss-and-go lane.”

Bozarth, which opened four years ago with 612 kids, has more than 1,000 now. Principal Rodney Saunders said he has seen steady improvement in the flow of traffic in the mornings and afternoons.

It was not without effort.

Last spring, he sought the help of parents and a transportation safety agency. That led to some changes, notably the closing off of the parking lot at certain times of day. No longer can parents pull into the lot, double park and wait.

“It just wasn’t safe,” Saunders said.

While Monday was not perfect — at least two parents thought their children had been lost, when they hadn’t, and another parent got a gentle scolding from the principal for not using the crosswalk — the changes were dramatic. Traffic in the kiss-and-go lane flowed smoothly.

Similar changes at other schools might work, and they might not. Every school is different. Some are on busy roads, some aren’t. Some have multiple parking lots, some don’t.

“The key is patience,” said Michael Rodriguez, a Clark County School District spokesman. “Leave a little extra time, especially in the morning.”

It would be nice if every one of the more than 350 schools in the district had enough parking spots for all the parents who want to pick up their children. But Rodriguez said that’s unrealistic; there would be no way to pay for it.

So, parents who want to pick up their children can either park in a nearby neighborhood and walk to school, or use the kiss-and-go lane.

That lane is a marvel of planning.

Parents write their child’s name in black marker on a piece of paper and place it on the dashboard. As they approach the front of the school, a teacher radios the name to the principal, who then calls out the child’s name with a megaphone.

Voila. The child appears, hops from the sidewalk into the car, and the next car moves into its place.

The child never has to set foot in the parking lot.

Contact reporter Richard Lake at rlake@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0307.

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