Traffic to Licking Heights High School was chaotic Monday, Dec. 3, with 820 cars arriving that morning.
It was the first morning the district implemented a policy of not busing students to the high school following the Nov. 6 failure of an 8.9-mill levy, thus forcing the district to eliminate $2.8 million from its operating budget, including some student transportation.
"Monday was our most challenging day," Superintendent Philip Wagner said.
He said traffic became smoother throughout the week as staff, parents and students learned to adapt.
Wagner said cars were backed up onto Cable Road on Monday. The traffic improved beginning Tuesday after administrators had an idea of how many cars would arrive daily and adjustments could be made to the traffic flow, he said.
"A routine is starting to develop," Wagner said.
He said for the first three days all administrators were helping to direct traffic. By Thursday and Friday, only three or four were necessary to monitor intersections.
"It's certainly not an ideal situation," Wagner said. "We're dealing with it the best we can under the circumstances."
"Overall, things have gone well," said Brian Bagley, a school board member.
"As you can imagine, having one entrance and more than a few cars trying to get in and out can make for a very difficult situation," Bagley said.
"However, our staff and administration teams did a very good job organizing traffic flow."
Bagley said they kept things moving at the front and back ends of the day.
"I am sure we will continue to tweak the process as needed," he said.
"As a parent of a high school student I can tell you that this isn't fun at all."
Bagley said he is working with a few other parents to run a carpool. "So far so good, our parents and students are making it work," he said.
Wagner said communications from parents have "run the gamut," from those who are angry to those who thank the district for making the best of a tough situation. He said nine students withdrew from the district during the week.
School Board President Richard Wand said he was aware that seven of the nine students withdrew because of the traffic issues.
"We've maybe lost 1 percent at this point," he said, adding the high school has roughly 900 students. Of those, about 600 rode a bus to school.
"The administration has really done a very good job of getting organized and staying on top of things," Wand said. "We've had everybody helping out; it's been good."
Wagner said traffic begins flowing into the high school about 40 minutes before the school day starts and vehicles begin lining up in front of the school roughly half and hour before the day ends.
"Some of the emotions have settled," Wagner said.
"This is about leadership and protecting the organization," he said. "Transportation is not the only focus."
Wagner said with all the attention on high school busing, it's easy for people to lose sight of the district continuing to lay off employees to meet the new budget restrictions.
"We're at a point that's challenging and we're looking at solving things long term," he said. "This district will survive."