It is 8:25 a.m. on a Thursday morning and vehicles are lined up along Federal Road waiting to turn onto Upland Way, and eventually into the Barrington High School student parking …
It is 8:25 a.m. on a Thursday morning and vehicles are lined up along Federal Road waiting to turn onto Upland Way, and eventually into the Barrington High School student parking lot.
Classes start soon, but the traffic does not care. It is moving very slowly, as students search the lot for open spaces but there are not many.
Students and school officials have noticed recently that the BHS student parking lot is more crowded than ever, which has led some young drivers to get creative when finding a space — some cars partially fill travel lanes while others edge onto the grassy shoulders.
The situation spurred an email from Barrington High School Principal Chris Ashley earlier this month. Ashley informed students and their families that only juniors and seniors are allowed to park their vehicles in the student lot. Ashley also reminded everyone of the other parking rules at the school.
“Student parking is not permitted in the front traffic circle or areas designated for staff and visitors,” Ashley wrote. “Automobiles must only be parked within the designated (parking spaces) areas. Vehicles must not be parked in “No Parking” areas on Federal Road, Upland Way or Lincoln Avenue.”
Ashley’s email also instructed students to register their vehicles with the main office. Once a vehicle is properly registered, the student will receive a registration sticker that should be placed on the rear window of the vehicle.
At the March 2 School Committee meeting, Barrington School Committee Student Representative Madeleine Kaufman spoke about student transportation issues. She said the student parking lot can be a dangerous place, especially in the second semester.
“It’s a madhouse because sophomores are getting their licenses,” she said. “Technically, it’s a junior-senior parking lot but sophomores sneak their way in. There’s a tendency to make their own parking spots, and (travel) lanes … suddenly become much, much smaller.
“And no one ever gets towed. That’s just how it is.”
Kaufman suggested the school resource officer may be able to help improve the situation. She also said it is not just students who are creating an unsafe environment in the parking lot — Kaufman said some parents use the student parking lot as a drop-off location when they’re driving their children to school.
“Some of them don’t stop” for students, Kaufman said about parent drivers. “Some of them don’t look.
“It does get hectic.”
School Committee member Megan Douglas said she would like the SRO to take a look at the traffic patterns at the high school, “because they’re bizarre.” She said she often envisions traffic reconfigurations when she’s dropping her daughter off at school.
Barrington Superintendent of Schools Michael Messore said officials examined the traffic pattern when the lot was redone a few years ago. He said the problems are likely related to the volume of vehicles.
School Committee member Amanda Regino Basse placed some blame on the adult drivers.
“I think the adult drivers don’t drive well,” she said. “My opinion is they don’t care for the children’s safety.”
Regino Basse cited problems at the middle school parking lot where drivers are required to turn right onto Middle Highway at certain times of day.
“That poor crossing guard,” she said, adding “It’s kind of sad we live in a community where you see cars run through crosswalks” when kids are on them.
School Committee member Frazier Bell said there are too many parents driving their children to school each day.
“We have too many people driving and it’s creating issues,” Bell said. “People get frustrated and drive like jerks.”
School officials later discussed increasing the police presence around school parking lots and more ticketing.
Fewer drivers, more walkers
Kaufman suggested school officials could possibly alleviate parking issues at the high school if they allowed more students to ride the bus, especially when the weather is bad.
She said some students who live inside the required distance to qualify for a bus could be allowed special permission to walk to a nearby bus stop when there’s bad weather.
Kaufman also said some roads do not have sidewalks, which serves as a deterrent to walking to school. She specifically mentioned Massasoit Avenue.
“I think a very nice shift in school culture would be to promote, especially when the weather’s nice … walking to school,” she said.
“It’s more popular when you’re younger, but bringing that to the high school … having that shift is difficult without incentives. It could be fun too.”
Bell said he loved Kaufman’s idea about offering incentives to increase the number of high school students walking to school. He asked if she had any thoughts about specific ideas for incentives.
Kaufman said the only one she thought of was offering a “bonus” for the Battle of the Classes competition for the grade which has the most student walkers.