Growing pains

Hawk Ridge Elementary was built in 1999. Polo Ridge was built in 2007. Elon Park was built in 2008. However, all three schools are having growing pains because the areas around them have  exploded with new homes and new families with school-age children.

One of the results is that streets around the school are jammed by parents waiting to drop their children off in the morning or pick them up at the end of the day. A relief school in the area could help reduce this traffic back-up and make travel easier for everyone – and there is one included in the 2017 bond proposal on the ballot Nov. 7.

"The bond will provide capacity and infrastructure to handle current and future growth on our southeastern edge," said Mike Drye, principal at Hawk Ridge Elementary.  "It should make our yearly enrollment numbers much more predictable, as well as help with traffic patterns during arrival and dismissal."

There are more than 870 students attending Hawk Ridge.

Overcrowding causes other issues, as well. Kelly Dowdy, principal at Elon Park, says that planning special area classes and lunch schedules is an art. With just two grade levels traveling around the school or sitting in the cafeteria, there could be as few as 400 students. If classes are traveling the hallways and intersect, it's a human traffic jam.

 "A relief school would provide some much-needed breathing room at Elon Park Elementary," said Dowdy. "Parents love to join their children for lunch, but are limited to only one parent per child due to seating capacity in the cafeteria.  All school and classroom events are carefully scheduled and take traffic flow, parking and crowd control into consideration.  While we make the best of it and have learned to live within these necessary confines, the rigid scheduling has an impact on the opportunities for teachers to schedule classroom activities at their leisure."

Elon Park has more than 1,100 students this year.

Polo Ridge with more than 1,000 students has difficulty planning special events.

"We have such an amazing and supportive community that rallies around our school and is highly active at school events," said Polo Ridge Principal Jovana Edwards.  "A relief school would alleviate the need for us to hold events in shifts just to manage all of the visitors.  This would also ease the congestion and traffic caused on Tom Short from overflow parking when having such events."

The bond would provide capital funding to build 17 new schools, relieving overcrowding at 20 other schools. The bond would also provide funding for renovations or additions at 12 more schools and would reduce the number of students in mobile classrooms at the 29 bond-project sites.