Please understand that essentially we have a volume and time problem. We have too many cars arriving in the last 10 minutes or so, and we have an 8:20 deadline (all schools have a time each day when the "tardy bell" rings - when they require students to be in the door of the school). In an effort to address this problem over the years, we have expanded our drop-off time. It used to be 8:00 a.m., and we now allow students to be dropped off as early as 7:45 a.m. We have also implemented practices such as dropping off up to three cars of students at a time, and increased the supervision in this area, including staff, police, and an administrator.
For those that face this challenge, here are some ideas/tips:
1. Put your child on the school bus if at all possible. Students who ride school buses are never counted as tardy.
2. Adjust your schedule, and arrive between 7:45 and 8:05 a.m. The lines are relatively short during that time period.
3. Try to arrive no later than 8:10 a.m. People who are in line or parked no later than that time get in the door before 8:20.
4. Drop up to three cars at the same time in the coned area. This speeds things up greatly.
5. Have your child ready with their backpack to get out of the car when you stop.
6. Say good-byes as you approach the drop-off area.
For quite a while, we allowed students a minute or two grace period on mornings when it was very cold or when there was inclement weather, but parents have voiced concern that we were being inconsistent. So we are now being consistent on a daily basis and implementing the policy that the 8:20 a.m. time is firm. We require that students be signed in as tardy if they arrive after that time. Please understand that there are State laws and an RCPS School Board policy that was revised last May that requires us to address habitual tardiness. It is not our choice.
In the coming years, as RCPS considers a renovation of JWES, the design of the drop-off loop area can most likely be a part of the conversation as well.
If you would like to talk with me about this issue, please know that I am certainly open to your input and ideas! Stop by, set an appointment with me, or call or e-mail if you wish. I would also be willing to meet with any parents or grandparents who are concerned, and who wish to be a part of a constructive conversation on Thursday, February 18th at 8:30 a.m. or at 2:00 p.m.
David W. Burchfield, Ed.D.