Heavy traffic filled the intersection of Elliot Road and 51st Street on Monday afternoon after BASIS Ahwatukee’s first day of the 2014-14 school year.

This isn’t the first time BASIS Ahwatukee has suffered from traffic congestion when school gets back in session.

Last year, during BASIS Ahwatukee’s inaugural year, the area experienced backups along nearby streets throughout the first week of school.

This year, BASIS Ahwatukee has expanded to two more grade levels — fourth and 11th grade — which brings the school’s enrollment to nearly 700 students.

Head of School Kristen Jordison said the school staff has been trying to rectify the problem by finding solutions to prevent overflowing traffic.

Emails were sent out to parents informing them on where the different drop-off and pickup zones are located at the school, and to arrive a few minutes after school lets out.

“We are working with our parents and teaching them procedures to make dismissal happen more swiftly,” she said. “Essentially, it’s about having parents come after dismissal … it’s the biggest key. Where it gets clogged down is when parents come and sit in the parking lot 15 minutes before their kid gets out. It’s just a matter of getting them used to what time their child will be dismissed.”

Jordison added that arrival on the first day of school was “seamless,” but dismissal was a bit difficult because of the half-day schedule.

“Dismissal periods were clustered together, more closely together than normal school days,” she said. “We don’t usually do a lot of half-days, so it’s an unusual occurrence.”

BASIS Ahwatukee has three normal dismissal times: fourth grade is dismissed at 3:15 p.m., fifth- through seventh-graders are dismissed at 2:30 p.m. and eighth through 11th grade are dismissed at 3:40 p.m.

Orfe Kelly, who has three children enrolled at BASIS Ahwatukee, said she anticipated there would be traffic throughout the first week of school.

“Next week, I do expect it to be better,” she said.

BASIS Ahwatukee has also been working with the Phoenix Police Department to aid its traffic plan.

“They did evaluate our plan and felt it was a good system,” Jordison said. “It’s just a matter of training everyone on the procedures and how to get in and out.”

BASIS Ahwatukee will also start its after-school programs such its late-bird program, which is a tutoring session for students.

Currently, there are 170 students signed up for the late-bird program.

Jordison said traffic would not be a reoccurring issue throughout the remainder of the school year.

“The first week is always the learning curve,” she said.

For more information about BASIS Ahwatukee, visit www.basisahwatukee.org.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-4903 or dochoa@ahwatukee.com.

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