July 23, 2016

Mostly clear

Waite’s wait is over

MONTVILLE TWP. — Concerns over traffic problems with Cobblestone Park Drive remaining closed at state Route 3 failed to materialize as buses arrived for the first day of classes Thursday at the new Ralph E. Waite Elementary School.

Teaching staff, bus drivers and auxiliary personnel spent the week preparing and rehearsing getting children safely to the door and inside the building.

“I think we have it down,” Principal Cindy Grice said as she waited for the buses to roll down the road. “It’s all hands on deck this morning to assure the kids feel safe. We have signs out, and they’ve had tours of the building. I’m pretty confident it will go well. After all, this is our grand debut, and we’re excited.”

Students pile out of buses Thursday on the first day of school at Ralph E. Waite Elementary School in Montville Township. The drop-off went smoothly, thanks to plenty of practice by bus drivers and school staff, school officials said. (Judy A. Totts/Gazette)

The office stays in touch with buses and school personnel responsible for directing children into the building through two-way radios to troubleshoot any problems.

“People tell us they’re ‘going to the ranch’ when they come here,” said Sherry Clarkson, one of the school secretaries, as the first cars began to enter the drop-off area. “It’s because we’re the farthest south of all the schools, and we’re a one-story building.”

Waite Elementary on Cobblestone Park Drive is accessible only by Poe Road or Highland Meadows Drive. Opening Cobblestone at Route 3 is being held up by the construction of turning lanes.

Developers are responsible for widening the intersection for turning lanes, but they have cited the poor economy as the main reason for not installing the lanes, which would cost an estimated $500,000.

Pat Taft said getting Cobblestone Park Drive open would make things a little easier, but that wasn’t why she dropped off her grandson Thursday.

“We live on (state Route) 162, and he has to cross the road to get to the bus,” Taft said. “Last year we had two close calls when drivers didn’t stop for the school bus, so Grandma’s on duty; but I’m sure we’ll get everything worked out.” She added the transportation department was good to work with and last year arranged for the bus to come from the opposite direction.

“Everything is moving smoothly,” township police Sgt. Terry Grice said. He added there were some garage sales on some of the streets in the surrounding development that contributed to some slow spots, but overall there were no long delays. Children who live in the development and must cross the area that’s being converted to a park next to the school will be bused to school while construction is going on.

At 8:45 a.m., bus drivers were instructed to allow children to get off the bus by grade level, beginning with first- and second-graders.

While some parents focused video cameras on offspring as they headed for the building, others talked with teachers and aides stationed at the drop-off area to clarify safety procedures.

“I don’t anticipate any problems,” said Sharon Cahow of Montville Township as she waited with her son, Shawn, 7. “It looks like it will be smooth.”

Contact Judy A. Totts at (330) 721-4063 or jtotts@ohio.net.