New Drop-Off System for Haynes Gate Causes Controversy But Student Safety Is Paramount

Kristy Pinedo, Managing Editor

As many of us at Birmingham have noticed, there have been major changes on campus this school year. The brand-new Haynes drop-off system is one of the most noticeable. Birmingham administrators deemed the original Haynes drop-off system unsafe for students and detrimental to traffic flow.

As a result, a new system has been implemented on Haynes, and those students who are dropped off there have definitely noticed. This new drop-off system has caused some controversy. As a result of the controversy, major questions have emerged, such as: Does this new system actually improve the traffic flow? Are students safer as a result of this new system? Was the new system required in the first place, or could the old Haynes system drop-off continue to stay?

So, how bad was Birmingham’s Haynes drop-off system before it was revamped? First and foremost, Birmingham didn’t really have one and there wasn’t anything that could be considered a “system.” This should tell you how chaotic morning drop-offs and traffic would become on the Haynes side. The old system was a free-for-all system in which parents could drop their students off anywhere on Haynes, putting in danger not only students who crossed the street, but also other cars. This increased the possibility of car accidents and disputes and contributed to unnecessary traffic and an unsafe environment for students. This being said, it should come as no surprise that drastic changes were required. So how does this new system work?

The new system entrance begins at Balboa and loops through the parking lot adjacent to the softball field and into the back of the student parking lot, where staff will direct you to the drop-off line.  From there, parents should exit the student parking lot’s exit-only driveway, turn right, and then turn left at the security booth onto Haynes before exiting on Balboa the same way they entered.

In theory, this plan should be able to provide a safer, less crowded, and more organized method of dropping off students, but, does this new system actually deliver on its promises? Is it actually making students safer? Is the traffic flow improving?

‘Yes,’ says one of our new assistant principals, Mr. Tommy Elmore. Elmore was in charge of implementing Haynes’ new drop-off system. When asked if the Haynes drop-off system was one of Birmingham’s main issues, he said “it was probably one of the biggest problems…our principal is really adamant on making sure we make parking safe.” This prompted the question of whether or not students have been hurt in the past when we didn’t have a drop-off system.

Elmore stated, “We’ve had fender benders in previous years in which cars have hit and run into one another and don’t drive safely. We’ve had fights because people are upset about the way other people drive.  People get very aggressive and we’ve had a lot of near-misses where kids or pedestrians were almost hit by vehicles that weren’t paying attention or just being very aggressive when they drive.” Safety was obviously a big part of implementing this system which brings us back to the other major change regarding traffic flow. So, has the change improved traffic flow?

“I’m glad that you asked that question,” Elmore said. “There’s a lot of misconceptions about traffic and tardiness and stuff like that, and one of the things I did was ask our deans to get me the numbers and what I learned is that when we looked at the tardy numbers and the traffic, absolute nothing changed when it came to the number of tardies when we changed over to this new system. The other thing we learned when looking at the data is that the days when it’s the heaviest with our tardies happen to be on Wednesday and that’s the day where students have an hour and ten minutes extra to get to class so I don’t want to attribute that to the parking system that we have in place because those numbers clearly discredit that.”

Mr. Elmore clarified that traffic on the Haynes side has not improved significantly, but he attributes this to how late students arrive at school rather than the new system.

When it comes to the parent’s perspective, the reviews are split into two groups: the parents that take their students early to school and those who come late. When asked about the feelings parents have towards the new system, Elmore stated, “I will say that for every 10 compliments, I’ll get one complaint… I learned that the parents who are here earlier, like at 8 a.m., when the traffic is minimal, are the parents who are so appreciative because they get to drive through the drop-off system. They’re not having to honk, make u-turns, go in and drive in a direction they’re not supposed to be going. The people that are concerned about it (the drop off the system) are the people who come late on a regular basis.”

Like I said before, the traffic depends upon whether you decide to come early or not. Although this system was clearly thought through, it seems like there is still room for improvement and Elmore agrees. ”I think there’s always room for improvement. When we first implemented this system, I called LAUSD and their representative said that we need to have a meeting with all these people because we need to put a system in place for traffic because it’s dangerous for people. This didn’t happen so I started to do it anyway.” Some of the adjustments that were made to the Haynes drop-off system include a new alternate drop-off zone.

Elmore’s primary mission when first coming to Birmingham was to “help make this school the best it’s ever been.” We, as a community, should do everything we can to make Birmingham live up to its maximum potential, and although change may seem hard, it’s a necessary thing in this process.

Limiting ourselves to not changing would be limiting Birmingham as a whole, so to students and parents who don’t like the system, Elmore would like to add this qualification. “I understand that change can be challenging and difficult for some people…but just know that when we do this, we do this to make sure that our children are safe and that is the most important thing here on this campus. For me, that is my primary objective: student safety.  So we ask that they please consider working with us.”

I completely agree with this statement because in order to grow as a school community, we have to be open-minded, especially when it comes to drastic changes like these. Mr. Elmore will continue making Birmingham Community Charter High School a better place and ensure Birmingham reaches its best possible version of itself. We have to remind ourselves as a community that change is good so hopefully, everyone will get accustomed to this new system. A big thank you from me and everyone at Birmingham to Mr.Elmore for helping Birmingham reach its true potential.