Late Buses and Traffic

Jack Horton, Staff Writer

Traffic and late students have remained a major issue at IHS despite various attempts to quell this beast. Some of these attempts included carpool passes, assigning senior parking, and teachers being lenient on students who arrive via late buses in terms of attendance. Junior Cole Breard states that he knows people who due to traffic would “get [to IHS] late and be unable to pack their instruments” and arrive to class on time, with students affected sometimes “needing to set their instruments in the office.” Freshmen Anna Ng wants to be on time to class but also “would rather not carry multiple bags” due to having to bring sports equipment in the morning. Thus, Ng is often forced to be late to first period, so that she can get to her locker which is on the way to first period, but out of the way from second period. Senior Hannah Gaffney says that ‘[students] scheduled to take tests [early in the morning] who arrive late end up requesting extra time to take the tests in the testing center.’ This leads to them having to stay after school, missing classes, or having to take the test in the testing center. Another key factor to consider is how traffic can result in students missing out on time to socialize early in the morning. This is especially critical for some such as Sophomore Nina Osborn who says that ‘[her] friend group [doesn’t] have the same lunch together anymore.’ Senior Rex Abolins says that he “often feels sleepy since he is forced to wake up earlier.” Physics and Intro to Leadership Teacher Josh Brookshire explains that in order to offer early morning meetings before the traffic hour, often “[teachers] choose to arrive early, which sometimes runs the risk of infringing on teacher contract time.” Pre-Calculus and Algebra 2 Teacher Katie Frei says that she “accounts for late buses by moving [her] lecture time to later in the class while moving work time earlier in class in order to avoid classroom disruption during lecturing.” This policy, though limiting disruption and giving late students a chance to learn the lesson or taking tests with time to spare, still doesn’t solve the issue of students getting less work time. This is because often students who do arrive on time do not have enough understanding of the course material in order to work ahead. Students who do not arrive on time miss out on early work time entirely.

Often the root cause of student traffic and late students has multiple compounding causes. Gaffney states that she must wake up significantly earlier to make sure she gets a parking spot due to the fact other people often park in the student parking lots. Though Gaffney thinks that “as the year goes on and student parking gets more settled” this problem will be mostly fixed. According to her when she does “not get to school early enough like during last year” she must “park in the gravel lot by the community center”, which “takes time to find spots for.” This leads to students looking for parking which contributes to traffic and late students. Ng adds on to this by explaining how seniors parking in the road leads to less road space for car maneuvering and causes more traffic. Sophomore Cole Clifford, however, disagrees with this view and thinks that “parking does not play a major role” and the real problem is “a lack of planning” on students” parts to wake up earlier to avoid traffic. He thinks that traffic is an inevitable issue due to the road design and the middle school being next to the high school. Most interviewees agreed to some extent that the road network played a role in traffic.

Junior Summer Morgan says that bus routes may also have an impact. “[Students] living near the school, may not have an available bus route, and choose to drive to school rather than walk.” Breard mentions that “many [students] don’t want to be mixed with middle school on [a] bus.” This may contribute to many high schoolers choosing to drive as they do not want to ride with the middle schoolers. Senior Rex Abolins says he “questions whether lateness is really a result of traffic but rather the new bathroom policy.” Abolins says that “the bathroom policy makes students choose to be purposely late” especially when they arrive near the time when school starts. They do this according to Abolins because, “if students went to class, they would not be able to leave” in the first ten minutes. Abolins proposed that “revoking the bathroom policy will lead to less late students.”

Many of the interviewees also proposed solutions to the traffic issue. Freshmen James Connolly believes that “with more parking the traffic and late students” issues could be solved. Additionally, Connolly proposed that “the roads should be expanded.” However, such a proposal presents significant problems as either the trail land would have to be rezoned or houses would have to be bought for rezoning. These houses would then have to be torn down to create more construction room. Breard thinks a less extreme solution can be achieved with “labelling every single spot and having passes inside cars with security guard out there that can help.” IHS already has an existing parking system, however perhaps with more staff the system could be enforced better. Gaffney confers that “once passes get enforced [the traffic] will be a lot more chill.” Morgan says that by just “having the middle school and high school on separate buses with a coordinated schedule”, a lot of the traffic issues can be fixed. However, this idea presents significant challenges towards rerouting school schedules.

Brookshire says that the parking issue actually “serves as an incentive towards students carpooling and using public transportation.” Based on this statement, one could conclude that if parking were to be increased many students would simply stop carpooling or taking the bus. He adds, “It’s unrealistic to heavily enforce parking passes [and] we are already experiencing extreme staffing shortages…. There’s also the issue of staff contracts.” He also says the bathroom policy being the cause of lateness is “a red herring which diverges significantly from the core issue.” He conveys that students “simply need to use better time management.” This means waking up earlier, arriving earlier, going to sleep earlier, and taking advantage of certain ideas like eating breakfast at the school building. Finally, he thinks that “arriving at school on time should be inherently motivating.” Based on this, one could conclude that perhaps external factors like traffic are heavily impacted by the internal desire over whether to get to school on time. However, Brookshire does believe there to be a major external factor of “the large schools nearby” as well as “the west route feeding down a main road artery.” The solution he highlights on a city level requires alternate traffic flow designs to be engineered through social or physical engineering though he admits he is “not an expert in how traffic would be redirected by the city.”

Frei states that “traffic will be an issue for the rest of your life.” “You must plan for traffic accordingly.” As for ideas for incentives to encourage students to come earlier, she says, “Carpool passes were already being used to incentivize students” and that “less traffic should be an incentive.” She says that it’s extremely important that students practice “carpooling and waking up earlier” which means “students taking responsibility for their own learning.” Additionally, she explains how “it’s possible that offering morning activities could encourage people to come earlier and provide support.” This might help motivate those to come to school who might otherwise have chosen not to because they were bored. However, she says that this would “stretch staff too thin.” However, one idea one could propose that would fix this problem is that ASB could do morning activities. In response to the complaint that high schoolers must ride with the middle schoolers on the bus Frei highlighted that such a practice “saves the district money” and “[we] were all in middle school at one point” so we should be more tolerant of riding with the middle schoolers.

Regardless of deferring solutions all agree that traffic has proven both a formidable and probably long-lasting issue for IHS. Given that there currently is not a unified plan towards solving traffic, nor a singular cause, it is prudent that students take advantage of time management and self-advocacy. On the time management side students can wake up earlier, sleep earlier, and eat breakfast at school if needed. On the self-advocacy side students can inform teachers of factors that prevent them from being on time and call in the attendance office if needed.