MOGADORE, Ohio — The signs in front of Somers Elementary in Mogadore are welcoming children back to school, but some parents feel like it’s starting off on the wrong foot.
The issue? The pickup and drop-off locations at the school.
The school, in collaboration with police and the mayor, changed its policy this year. It stated that children who are in open-enrollment will have to be dropped off and picked up at the park behind the school. In order to get to and from, they have to walk up a rather steep hill.
“They’re making us park over here and everyone’s parked over here. There’s a cluster of all these kids coming over this way, I feel like it is unsafe,” said Katherine Chips, a parent. “We’re open-enrolled kids and that is who they chose to put down here.”
Mayor Michael Rick said the decision was made because of the infamous traffic issues that occur during pickup and drop-off time, especially for the residents who live near the school.
“We had many residents complain, people who lived in the area, that said ‘there are way too many cars here. We can’t get in and out of our houses at times,’” said Rick.
Kathy Evans, a grandparent of a student, admitted it was a headache.
“It was kind of hectic because you could park in front of the school, but then people were going inside on the other side then cutting in to get their kid and it was not very good,” she said.
Rick said he and the police chief went to the district to see what could be done about the traffic issues before the start of the school year.
“We said ‘well maybe we will have direct traffic to two different spots,’ and I said, ‘We have the park right here at the bottom of the hill we can use that parking lot,’” said Rick.
He said the district and the superintendent agreed.
“We are assuming cars increase because open enrollment increased, so we said, 'Well maybe we ask the school if we split open enrollment with residents here, open enrollment here, and see if it works,’” he noted.
The school then gave permits to families who live in the district, allowing them to use the front entrance and said anyone who doesn’t have a permit will have to use the park’s parking lot behind the school.
But some parents believe it is a safety issue.
“All the kids are walking into this way, grownups are trying to back up to leave. I just feel like a kid is going to get run over,” said Chips.
Evans is worried about how treacherous the hill will be come winter.
“I think they tried to make this the best choice. but I’m concerned about all the cars in the winter because is it going to be plowed?” Evans saod.
Both Rick and the police chief said when they helped come up with the solution to the traffic problem, everyone agreed it was a fluid situation and subject to change, but Rick said what happens on school property is really up to the district.
News 5 asked the superintendent for comment twice and he declined twice.
Rick said he is willing to work out a solution that works for everyone.
“If we’d be able to do something to alleviate the traffic and kids wouldn’t have to be walking as much as they’re walking from the parking lot, I have no problem with that. That would be great,” he said.