eality is returning.
Summer break officially ends next week as several local schools return to session; others return to action in the days and weeks that follow.
The start of the 2014-2015 school year doesn’t just mean changes for students used to sleeping in and hitting the beach with friends – it can also be a rude awakening for parents and local motorists, who will suddenly notice a higher level of congestion on area roadways.
Here’s what Key Biscayne residents need to know to survive the start of the school year and help keep traffic flowing smoothly and safely:
The Key Biscayne K-8 Center, 150 West McIntyre Street, opens its doors Monday, August 18, along with all other Miami-Dade County public schools.
With over 1,300 students, the K-8 Center is the island’s largest school, meaning it can have a pretty significant impact on traffic patterns.
A letter from Principal Silvia Tarafa urges parents and anyone passing by the school to keep kids’ safety in mind. “As we begin a new school year, it is important to emphasize that the safety of our students is a priority for everyone,” she noted.
Meanwhile, Tarafa and Key Biscayne Police Chief Charles Press are reaching out to the public with details on important times and regulations to help everyone navigate the area smoothly.
First and foremost, they are notifying residents of two changes: drivers are no longer allowed to turn left onto West Enid Drive from Ridgewood Road during drop-off and pick-up hours, and westbound traffic on West Enid can no longer turn left onto Ridgewood in the afternoon.
The school’s doors open at 7:40 a.m., with a majority of students arriving shortly thereafter for classes that start between 8:10 and 8:25, depending on grade level. Pre-K and 1st-grade students are dismissed at 1:50 p.m. and all other grades depart at 3:05 p.m., except on Wednesdays, when early dismissal has all students leaving at 1:50 p.m.
Students are dropped off and picked up at locations designated by grade – and Press and Tarafa stress only those locations, not other side streets around the school, should be used.
Grades pre-K-2 use the West McIntyre entrance, 3 and 4 use the Glenridge Road entrance, and 5-8 use the Ridgewood entrance. “This will be strictly enforced by the Key Biscayne Police Department’s Traffic Unit,” they said. “By dropping off your child on the side streets, you force through-traffic to go around you and into oncoming traffic, and create a hazardous situation.”
Also, they said, don’t drop off kids across the street from the school, as it forces them to walk in traffic; and don’t park in marked pick-up and drop-off zones to walk kids into the school.
Proper parking areas are located around the perimeter of the school: Glenridge on the east side of the building and West Enid on the south side. Parking is also available on Ridgewood and West McIntyre, except for during drop-off and pick-up hours.
Press also urged drivers to obey “no parking,” “no stopping and standing” and speed limit signs, and reminded residents of specific rules regarding where parking is illegal: on or over a sidewalk, on or within 20 feet of a crosswalk at an intersection, within an intersection, blocking a public or private driveway, and within 15 feet of a fire hydrant.
Double parking is also illegal, as is parking in any way that obstructs traffic.
Tarafa urged everyone driving around the school to exercise caution: “Our children’s safety is far more important than the inconveniences that these security precautions may cause,” she noted.
The Village’s other public school, MAST Academy at 3979 Rickenbacker Causeway on Virginia Key, also starts August 18. Over 800 students attend MAST.
This is the last school year before local students get their own building: a brand new facility for 1,100 Key Biscayne students in grades 6-12 will open for the 2015-2016 school year thanks to an Interlocal Agreement between the Village and Miami-Dade School District.
With construction of the school underway, pickup and drop-off patterns are altered (see related article above).
School hours are 9 a.m.-3:40 p.m. for grades 6-9 and 7:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. for grades 9-12.
St. Agnes Academy
Monday the 18th is also the start date for St. Agnes Academy, which has roughly 500 students in grades pre-K3 through 8. The school, located at 122 Harbor Drive, starts with a shortened day Monday: kindergarten is 8 a.m. to noon, grades 1-3 are 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., and grades 4-8 are 8 a.m.-1p.m. There’s also a pre-K informational meeting at 8:30 a.m.
On Tuesday, regular arrival and dismissal times begin for all students except those in pre-K: kindergarten is 7:50 a.m.-2 p.m., grades 1-3 are 7:50 a.m.-2:30 p.m., grades 4-5 are 7:50 a.m.-3 p.m., and grades 6-8 are 7:40 a.m.-3 p.m. There’s also a pre-K visit from 9-11 a.m.
Pre-K students start classes Thursday, August 21, from 7:50 a.m. to noon.
Parents who drive their kids to and from school should enter St. Agnes at the east driveway, near the parish offices, and follow the traffic flow to their designated drop-off and pickup areas. Cars should exit at the west driveway near the auditorium.
Drivers are reminded to travel slowly – under 5 mph – and in one direction for the safety of the children, school officials say. Parking for parents who want to walk their kids up to the building is on Harbor Drive only, not in the church or faculty parking lots.
St. Christopher’s Montessori
The next school to open is St. Christopher’s By-the-Sea Montessori School, at 95 Harbor Drive, where classes start Monday, August 25.
St. Christopher’s serves students from age 2-and-a-half to grade 6.
The school day starts at 8:20 a.m., with dismissals at 11:30 a.m. for the youngest students, 2 p.m. for 4-year-olds and 3 p.m. for elementary school pupils.
When dropping off and picking up their kids, parents should enter on Fernwood Road and exit onto Harbor Drive, keeping traffic flow going in just one direction.
The school is saying goodbye to its previous director – Dr. Mary Ellen Cassini – and the search is underway for a new Head of School.
Presbyterian Church School
Key Biscayne Presbyterian Church School, 160 Harbor Drive, also opens the last week of August, with classes starting Wednesday, August 27. The day before, on Tuesday, August 26, there’s an open house from 9-11 a.m.
The school is welcoming not only new classes, but a new leader – Debora Viggiani is taking the reins as School Director.
KBPCS is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and serves kids from 18 months old through kindergarten.
Parents are directed to bring their children directly to their classroom each morning.
For afternoon drop-off, depending on which class their child is in, parents go to their child’s classroom or pick up at either the school entrance at the church’s east parking lot, the back stairs behind the church office or the rear gate behind the building.
Community Church Day School
Finally, the Key Biscayne Community Church Day School, 355 Glenridge, starts its school year the day Labor Day, i.e. Tuesday, September 2. The school day starts at 8:30 a.m. with dismissal at 2:20 p.m. Aftercare is available until 5:30.
The school, which serves ages 1-and-a-half through Pre-K, is open for orientation Friday, August 29; parents can stop by anytime between 9 a.m. and noon.
During the school year, for drop-off and pickup, parents enter the parking lot off Fernwood and exit onto Glenridge, and carpoolers can use a designated drive-through carpool lane.