After many impassioned discussions about school security following a spate of shootings across the country, the North Shore School District began the 2018-19 school year with a new measure to keep students safe. The district now requires everyone — from students to teachers to visitors — to enter North Shore High School through a single gate and door, which has some parents complaining about congestion in front of the school.
After the first day of school, parents and residents debated the issue on Facebook. Some said the new measure is causing cars to back up in the high school’s traffic circle during morning drop-offs and afternoon pickups, which in turn causes congestion at the main entrance on Glen Cove Avenue, through which everyone must enter and exit.
Some suggested using the gates at Plymouth Drive South (north of the high school) and Todd Drive North (south of the school) as drop-off and pickup points, to ease congestion. As of Sept. 12, however, the new rule required that those gates remain closed.
“These measures are aimed to limit the number of access points to our campus, and to our building,” Principal Albert Cousins wrote in an email to the high school community on Aug. 30. “This decision was made based on input from our school safety consultants.” Cousins added that families should avoid using the faculty parking lot to drop off students, since they will no longer be able to access the high school through the building’s side doors.
Glen Head parent Donna Calamis called traffic congestion a “big safety issue.” “It’s not the single access point into the building that’s the problem; it’s the buildup of cars alongside the buses that creates a dangerous situation,” she said. “So many kids dart out in front of the buses, and the buses don’t let cars in between them to leave.”
Calamis added that if drivers could use the entrance on nearby Todd Drive during drop-off and dismissal, it would “solve a great danger.” “Cars can pull into the main entrance, pick up their kids by the sidewalk next to the gym, and continue straight and out onto Todd Drive,” she said. “Of course, one open door with security is needed, but you could also put a person at that driveway on Todd for 20 minutes twice a day. They could even sit in a golf cart.”
Linda DelGaudio, who lives on Todd Drive, disagreed. “I can see all that traffic being a danger to the kids who walk home on Todd,” she said.
Some parents argued that students within walking distance could get to and from school by foot, thus limiting the number of cars in the area; however, more students are now eligible to take buses. In the annual budget vote in May, residents approved a proposal to reduce the district’s transportation limit, thus granting more students access to buses.
“This reduces the transportation eligibility for students in grades nine through 12 from a mile and a half to only one mile,” Superintendent Dr. Peter Giarrizzo said. “It gets more kids on the bus to school using the same runs, and uses the buses at operating capacity.”
North Shore Middle School Principal Robert Dennis said he doesn’t believe the new security measure causes additional traffic, and noted that a single point of entry has long been used at the middle school.
“We haven’t changed the drop-off area, which is the school’s upper circle,” he said. “It’s the same protocol we’ve always used.”
Dennis added that the measure, though considered inconvenient by some, would ultimately keep students safe on their way to school. “We supervise one centralized location for students who are coming in at one place, which keeps everybody safe,” he said.
“Most times, safety is an inconvenience,” said Bill Mozer, of Glen Head. “So be it.”