Photo by Nick Fiala

Rensselaer Central High School Principal Andrew Jones explains the new shuttle system, which is set to be implemented at the east lot of the high school building by the start of the new school year this fall.

RENSSELAER — The Rensselaer Central School Board recently heard a presentation on changes that will be made to the high school building’s morning drop-off routine.

Though there is not yet an exact date set for when some of the necessary components will be implemented over the summer, this new routine will be effective on the first day of the upcoming school year.

Principal Andrew Jones presented an aerial view of the high school building and pointed out how the routine is expected to change.

The problem with the current morning routine is congestion on the north side of the high school along Bomber Boulevard. This problem doesn’t exist on most afternoons because of crossing guards and buses all leave, more or less, at the same time.

Jones said Bomber Boulevard becomes extremely congested during the morning drop-off period. Parents of students pull into the circle drive area or stop near the middle of the road, disregarding parking signs, and congest the area near the north lot of the school.

Meanwhile, buses also are trying to get through that area. Jones called mornings “chaos” because of everyone’s different schedules and driving patterns.

“We have buses that come in all directions, we have parents that come in all directions,” Jones said. “Back here (on Bomber Boulevard) is an accident waiting to happen. It’s a liability.”

Jones said he and School Resource Officer Brandt Schmid discussed the issue with Superintendent Curt Craig. The proposal they have come up with is to repaint the east lot of the property as a “shuttle lot” to use it for a smoother drop-off process. A drop-off lane, with two crosswalks and possibly speed bumps, will be placed around the perimeter of the east lot.

“Student parking would still be in the middle,” Jones said. “We would lose some of the parking along the north and south edge, but it would be a one-way entrance where you go around the perimeter and exit out onto Bomber Boulevard. We think this will help eliminate the high congestion (on the north side).”

In the afternoon, student drivers will exit the east lot, from the one designated exit of the new shuttle lane.

On the north side, buses would still use the circle drive to drop students off in the morning as a one-way entrance and exit. Handicap and special education buses and parents of students with disabilities can still use drop-off spaces near the circle drive.

Parents could still drop off students in the front drive in the morning if they so chose. Jones said there would be no change to the front parking lot since “it seems to flow pretty well.”

The main financial investments of the project, aside from the painting and speed bumps, will be signage along Bomber Boulevard to remind drivers, as well as barriers on the front and east entrances of the school.

“Right now, a car could drive straight up this sidewalk through glass doors,” Jones said, pointing to an entrance on the east side.

Craig said that, although there will be a learning curve, it is hoped that parents and student drivers will be accustomed to the new routine within the first several weeks of the new school year.

“If it greatly inconveniences people, they won’t do it,” Craig said. “But I don’t think this greatly inconveniences people.”