During the winter months the issue of dropping off children and picking them up at the end of the school day at Mother Teresa Catholic School becomes worse because of the snowbanks. Courtesy PhotoRUSSELL – Parents of children attending Mother Teresa Catholic School in Russell have had enough.

Genevieve Tamas on behalf of the parents of Mother Teresa made a presentation to the Russell council on May 23.

She wanted to highlight the ongoing concern parents have about the issue of parking, dropping their children and picking them up from the school.

Tamas said the issue is not a new one but it is time to do something about it.

She described the current situation at the school as chaotic.

“In the last two years it has been brought up many times at parent council as well as having bylaw visits to assess the situation and meetings with township. I am just here today to help bring it back to the attention of the council and hopefully ensure a fair solution is added to the 2024 budget,” said Tamas.

She said the school has asked the parent council to not bring the issue up again.

Parents have been asked to drop off their children at the school gate on First Ave. Kindergarten children are taken into the school individually. Other grades are called in by groups, however this has since changed.

When it is time for children to be picked up, the process is Kindergarten students are released before the school bell goes off. Primary students are released at the first bell and junior students are released at the second bell.

People have to park on both sides of the street, which leaves pedestrians with nowhere to walk safely. At the same time children who are walking to school are forced to walk in between vehicles.

She said the situation was a disaster waiting to happen.

During the winter the problem is worse.

She said, “Now the school population is 530 students and there was an additional 50 students this year as well, as you may have seen in the news there has been an expansion for 138 more students added in the works and 24 preschool students in the child preschool program. Currently the preschool program hasn’t been opened yet so this would be an additional burden to an already difficult situation.”

Tamas said, “A sidewalk on First Ave. or no parking on one side of the road would give pedestrians a place to walk safely and allow for both lanes to be used.”

She suggested a sidewalk or safe path from the nearby baseball diamond to the crosswalk would encourage parking at that location.

Tamas added, “The parking at Mother Teresa is not an easy or quick fix, but as the school and area continue to grow, it is only going to get worse. We need the township’s help to ensure that everyone can get to school safely every day.

The parent group would like the council to get involved with school administration to find a solution.

Mayor Pierre Leroux agreed the problem was a real one. He said the council would definitely make the issue part of their 2024 budget deliberations and he said discussions about the problem should definitely happen between the two administrations.

Councillor Lalonde said, “I know the street well. My kids all went to school there; we walked down that street a thousand times, it’s a very risky road right now.”