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Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Let the Pick-Up Games begin

Ten years ago, my biggest concern was pick-up lines.  “Do you have a map? I’m getting lost in your eyes!”  Or, “Are you a library book, cause I’m checking you out!”  And finally, “Feel my sweater, it is boyfriend material”.

Fast forward to today and my problem, and that of many Fort Thomas parents, is still pick-up lines, only of a different sort!  That’s right, I’m talking about the dreaded school drop-off and pick-up lines at the Fort Thomas schools.  I'm talking about the frustration of the car lines to rival the opening scene traffic jam from Office Space.  I’m talking about lines so bad that after dropping your kid off you’re tempted to circle around to the end of the line, figuring by the time you get to the front you’ll just barely make it in time for afternoon pick-up. So, why are you letting yourself be reduced to a screaming, blithering, frustrated NYC cabbie every Monday to Friday morning when you could be handling it like the below guide:

Step one: Retrieving your child.
Moyer and Woodfill have a very straightforward and pretty simple procedure.  Each parent is given a name tag to hang on their car window.  The teachers see the tag and send your child.  However, no tag, no child and you end up having to choose one out of the lost and found bin and hope that no one notices the difference.  Johnson is a bit different since parents have to actually (gasp!) find a parking spot, wait, and load their own children, absent the pick-up line.

Step two: Do not run over your neighbor.
This shouldn’t need to be an actual step but apparently some have come close to forgetting (you know who you are!).  You must respect other drivers. And you must respect other people at the crosswalk.

Step three: Move it.
Every inch of space between you and the car in front of you makes the car line physically longer. So remember, this is not a middle school canteen and you do NOT need to save room for the holy spirit. It may even be worth coupling your bumper to the car in front of you to ensure there is not an inch left.  Oh, and once you have your kid, LEAVE THE LINE.

Step Four: Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff.
Remember, if you fail to pick up your child at the end of the school day, you can always come back and try to get them tomorrow.  It’s only one overnight and it’s not like locking children in a school overnight is the beginning of every campy teenage horror film ever.  Let’s just hope you don’t mess up on Friday afternoon!

Ok, ok.  So the steps above aren’t actually all that helpful.  Perhaps the actual school procedures spelled out below will be a little better.

Johnson Drop off procedure:

Since Johnson is located on a very busy street, students are strongly encouraged to walk.  However, when children need to be driven, administrators need parents to pull all the way to the front of the drop off zone, unload quickly, and then exit the drop off zone immediately.  This is a No Parking zone.  Also, parents and students must always use the crosswalk.

John Stratton, Assistant Superintendent of the Fort Thomas schools states that the district is “in agreement [that] something [needs] to be done at Johnson to help the congestion”.  He goes on to state that, “the problem is the only answer we have at this point involves space and money- neither of which we have at this time”.  The district is actively pursuing funds from the General Assembly to address this issue.

Jill Taylor, Johnson mom, states that, “drop off is a piece of cake but pick up is a nightmare”.  Emily Anderson, mom of a Kindergarten student advises parents to find a spot on a side street to park since “there is only room for 5 or 6 cars at a time [and] there aren’t any rules”.

So, let the Pick-Up Games begin.

Moyer Procedure:

Moyer seems to have their drop-off and pick-up down to a pretty perfect science.  Drivers enter their access road from James Avenue (by the Swim Club) and drop their students at the corner of the gym any time after 7:30 but before 8:15.  An attendant takes the children into school and another stops traffic to allow 5 cars to exit at a time, turning either right or left back onto Highland Avenue.  Pick-up works similarly except children are gathered in the gym and released to their cars using the signage described above.

Claire Freppon, Moyer mom, says her only complaint is those parents who try to avoid the drop-off line by just stopping in the middle of Highland Avenue “and letting their kids out anywhere”.  She goes on to say, “Those cars hold up traffic more than anyone going through the loop”.  Jennifer Fischer, fellow mom, agrees that it is the non-rule followers “that complain about the carline” and that they are the ones who jam it up by stopping “traffic on Highland to drop off AND pick up”.

Lauren Kilgore stresses how great it is to live in a walking city.   “We walk in decent weather but I have loved the ability to drop him (her son) at the door and not get little Kate out in the cold. In the nicer weather I make it a point to walk so the people who need to use the carline (parents rushing to work, moms with a few littles in the car with them, etc.) can get through with one less car!”

Woodfill Procedure:

Woodfill drivers are asked to enter the driveway from US 27 South, not headed North which would cause traffic to backup as drivers attempt to turn left into the driveway.  The drive leads around the school to near the front where students should be dropped off by the cafeteria.

The biggest issue with this procedure seems to be along US 27 and not the line itself.  Laura Hamblin, Woodfill mom, said “My husband came home from work early today and sat in Woodfill traffic on 27 southbound for 14 minutes. He was livid and glad he wasn't trying to pick someone up!”  Kara Uhl (FTM Contributor), like Kilgore, is “looking forward to the better weather when [she] can walk again.”

So, moral of the story is spring cannot arrive soon enough!  But given the 6-10 inches of snow allegedly falling as we speak, you may just have to do your best in those carlines for a bit longer.


  1. Dropping off at Johnson in the morning is not "a piece of cake". The most frustrating part about the drop off are the parents that for whatever reason park their car in the no parking zone, get out, and either chat with other parents on the sidewalk (coffees in hand no doubt) or seemingly disappear into the school. The no parking zone is the only drop off area in front of the school. We've had to drop our kids off in the middle of the street because cars were parked in the no parking zone. This is dangerous and creates further backups. While the school says they have reminded parents not to park there such efforts have proven useless. Parents are taking advantage of the lack of actual enforcement. Citations need to be handed out.

  2. Great article. Thank goodness for the option to walk to and from school! It sounds like kindergarten traffic might just be as stressful as the kindergarten registration process! 🚙

  3. Agreed! I think citations are in order, before and after school, for people parking in yellow no parking spots such as the one at Dixie and N. Ft. Thomas Ave., and in front of the fire hydrant on N. Ft. Thomas Ave.

  4. At Johnson, people park in the middle of two parking spots, leaving even fewer available spaces.

  5. I don't think it's just an elementary school problem. It's more so, just a rudeness problem. At our daycare, Kiddy College, people will just pull right up to the door to get junior, thereby blocking anyone from being able to pull through.

    I think the mentality is, "well, it's just for a second."

    What they don't realize is that they are inconveniencing EVERYONE "just for a second", for their benefit "just for a second."

    They take advantage of the decency of people to not confront them and in actuality what these people need is a big dose of confrontation. I guess it's just small-town living though, because while they should be confronted on their rudeness, they won't for fear they'll run into that person the next day.

  6. I agree with citations. If everyone just follows the guidelines, it would go more smoothly. Dropping off on side streets and no drop zones just puts the children in harms way. We are all in a hurry to get here or there, but ultimately our goal is the same: get our kids to and from school safely.

  7. We're getting really tired of the excessive speeding from pick up parents turning around on Woodside Place for after school events, early a.m. practices, and school Pick up/drop off. They are also parking in yellow zones with half their trunk sticking out making it impossible for true residents to exit the cul de sac during any pick up and drop off period. We also having quite a few "nappers" sleeping in cars a full hour before school dismissal. It's pretty creepy and makes us think other things are going on like drug use while waiting for the kiddies. Our street is not a truck stop...move it along...thanks.

  8. Another problem around Johnson School are the cars that make u-turns. Most have no turn signal and/or pull over to the opposite curb and suddenly turn in front of you to make their u-turn. This is dangerous and should be illegal. This occurs all the time...not just during school. This is dangerous and should be illegal.

  9. They should make Hartweg one way that time of day. With parking on both sides and people impatient to get through, that place is an accident waiting to happen.

  10. Uh.... walk to school

    1. So your solution is to have kids walk to school so parents can park illegally in the school drop off zone? Ideally, yes, the kids should walk to school but like many parents we drop them off on our way to work. And most kids at Johnson are not quite old enough to walk on their own. You also have to factor in rain, snow, cold temperatures, cranky kids, tardiness, etc. Plus they aren't allowed to wear boots at school so they have to bring a change of shoes if they do. Yeah, that's easy. So walking to school is not a realistic solution. The moment a single citation is handed out the news will spread like wildfire (likely through our beloved FTM and the chatty, yoga pant wearing, coffee drinking Moms on the sidewalk) and people will change their behavior.

  11. Numerous complaints have been called into the city building regarding the cars parked in front of Johnson. This is a problem all day and will eventually be the cause of a serious accident for someone trying to leave their home on Cliffview.

  12. I regularly see people parked illegally, in front of the yellow painted curbs - the yellow curbs in front of stop signs designed to provide better visibility for individuals attempting to cross the street. And, almost daily I see cars parked (often unattended) in the yellow curb area north of Johnson / Cliffview. Once saw a METRO bus stop on the avenue for over 10 minutes because it could not get through due to the illegally parked cars. If a bus can't get through I expect the firetruck and ambulance cannot as well? I brought this to the attention of the police on more than one occasion. They don't seem to be concerned with protecting and serving. I

    I thought it was funny that cones were often placed in front of the yellow curb north of Cliffview. Does that mean in Fort Thomas it is now legal to park in yellow curb areas unless there is a cone?

    I am thankful nothing has happened and hopeful this article will remind Ft Thomas police that protecting and serving is always important.

  13. I feel like this article is the epitome of the first world problems Fort Thomas residents have lol.