With the closure of schools in the spring of 2020, the Clarke district took advantage of the reduced traffic at the elementary building to kick off some much needed renovations.
To improve security, the main office has moved from the south-central side of the building to the west side, by the old gymnasium. This move improves safety by creating a single access point for visitors as well as reducing access to student hallways and classrooms. The main entrance for visitors is now on the west side of the building, off S. Kossuth Street.
These changes also altered the traffic flow around the building. As students and parents prepare to return to school this fall, they’ll notice the updates as well as some of the changes that will be required during daily drop-off and pick-up times.
“The biggest change people will see is the traffic flow around the building,” said Jody Kerchal, Clarke Elementary Principal. “Parents and guardians will now pick-up and drop-off their kids on the west and south sides of the building, not the north.”
The circle drive on the north side of the elementary building, which had long been a source of traffic congestion and frustration for parents and staff alike, will be reserved for bus traffic only. During pick-up and drop-off hours, traffic on E. Jefferson Street will be restricted to one-way bus traffic only. This will allow the busses unfettered, curb-side access to the circle drive and help maintain the safety for students getting on and off the bus. Signs of access hours will be posted before the start of school on the 24th of August.
Parents and guardians driving their students to and from the elementary will now be asked to access the school from the north-bound lane of S. Kossuth Street on the west side of the building and the west bound lane on E. Cass Street to the south.
“It’s important to understand, if using Kossuth, students need to be dropped off and picked up from the north-bound lane only,” said Becca Kedley, Clarke Elementary Assistant Principal. “For the safety of the students, we can’t have them crossing traffic to get to and from school.”
On the south side of the building, students can be picked up and dropped off on E. Cass by accessing the area through S. Dewey Street. This, too, will be a one-way approach to ensure the safety of the students. Spaces that were once staff parking in the Cass entrance will be converted to visitor parking, and staff parking will be moved to the east parking lot down the hill from the Dewey / Cass intersection.
“These changes are a real improvement,” said Kedley. “Now cars and busses won’t be trying to access the same areas, and parents and guardians will have two areas to use instead of one.”
An additional security measure for parents and guardians this year will be car identification signs. Each car that picks up or drops off students to the elementary building will be provided a name placard to be put in the front window of their vehicle. This will not only help with staff coordinating the students during the hectic times, but serve as an identifier for students looking for their rides.
During morning and afternoon drop-off and pick-up hours, there will be traffic monitors on the corners and intersections to help with traffic flow and help students safely get to and from the building.
“The renovations to the office and the changes in traffic will improve the safety and security for all who use the building,” said Steve Seid, Clarke Schools Superintendent.