Parking lot at Rowe to be expanded; New school to have full drop-off, pickup line in front

Traffic during pickup hours at the under-construction R. Roger Rowe School has been hairy at times, but it can only get better as the parking lot gets built out with the rest of the school, Rancho Santa Fe Patrol Chief Matt Wellhouser said.

“The worst of what you see is going to happen this year,” Wellhouser said.

The new school will have a full drop-off and pickup line at the front of the school on Avenida de Acacias as well as one on El Fuego. The current queue on El Fuego is only two-thirds of what it will be when the school is completed.

Morning drop-offs have been going smoothly, Wellhouser said, noting that it’s even better than it was before construction. There is about an hour window when parents drop children off for school and there is enough room for cars to line up on El Fuego, leaving no cars on Avenida de Acacias.

The afternoon is when the challenges arrive. Around 2:45 p.m. is not a good time to go get the mail at the post office, Wellhouser advised.

“For the first few days it was kind of a nightmare,” Wellhouser said, noting it has improved as parents figure out the best time to arrive.

The school and patrol have been working with the fire department as well as they have concerns about the line-up of cars - they need to be able to access El Fuego in times of emergency.

To help teachers get children to their cars quicker, the school sent home colored tags that hang off the rear view mirror, representative of the grade level of the youngest child. Teachers spot the tags and get the children out of their grade lineup - older siblings wait with the youngest student.

The Rancho Santa Fe Association has also done its part to help streamline the process. They repainted the parking lot to allow for pick-up queue and a drive-through queue. They also had to mark off parking spaces for association staff only.

“It’s like herding kittens - there’s only so much you can do,” Wellhouser said.

As the school year settles in, he added, the situation should improve, especially as fall sports begin and carpools are formed.

Wellhouser suggests that parents come a little later; the traffic is easier to navigate at 3:15 p.m. than it is at 2:45 p.m.

According to Superintendent Lindy Delaney, the construction process is on track and should be completed in August. One of two construction cranes arrived on campus on Sept. 25 and will start flying steel on Sept. 28.