Monday marks the start of a new school year at Homestead High School, and with it, a sharp increase in morning traffic on and near the campus. This year, drop-offs are expected to be even more difficult than usual, as the staff parking lot – one of three school-sanctioned drop-off locations – will be closed to the public because of construction.
To accommodate the change, Homestead’s Safe Routes to School (SRTS) committee – through a flier handed out at orientation last week – recommends parents drop off students at the Valley Church parking lot, located a few blocks from school at the intersection of Homestead and North Stelling roads in Cupertino.
Other options listed include the student lot, which will remain open, and the horseshoe in front of the school.
Parents dropping off at these locations are advised to be aware that there is no right turn permitted into the horseshoe from the left lane and there is only a right turn allowed when exiting from both the horseshoe and the student lot.
Nearby streets, including South Mary Avenue and Kennewick Drive, are also options, though they were not mentioned on the flier.
“Please remember to be good to our neighbors and respect traffic laws in the surrounding neighborhood,” said Steve Puccinelli, Homestead’s dean of students and leader of the school’s SRTS committee. “We are working with the city of Sunnyvale and city of Cupertino to spread the word and make sure that traffic is flowing smoothly in the neighborhoods.”
The SRTS committee advocates that the best way to avoid the traffic is not to drive to school; biking, walking or carpooling are all more environmentally friendly and may save time.
The flier also provides tips on being mindful of kids walking and biking to school, and of the markings on the road. For example, never merge into green bike lines, such as the one on Mary.
A study conducted by SRTS last school year found that nearly two-thirds of drivers arrive within 10 minutes of the bell, between 7:50 and 8 a.m., so students are encouraged this year to arrive 15 minutes before the bell. The same study revealed that traffic in the left-turn lane onto Kennewick backs up during these times; the flier encourages parents to find alternative routes for leaving school.
The construction project aims to replace the D Building – where art classes were formerly located – with a new Guidance and Student Services Building and provide a new main entrance to the school facing the staff lot. The project should be completed by October 2020, according to Puccinelli, who added that demolition of the D Building, which began in July, is nearly complete.
“While (the construction) is a big change and will have a dramatic impact on our school community,” he said, “the hopeful silver lining is that families can develop long-term changes in their driving patterns that will reduce traffic and increase safety at our campus during construction and beyond.”