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Into the Roosevelt war zone

Roosevelt Elementary School custodian Ron Badurek has a laugh with parent Cheryl Hutchinson as she waits to pick up her kids after school Tuesday afternoon in the upper Roosevelt parking lot.1 / 2
Custodian Ron Badurek doubles as traffic director in the Roosevelt Elementary School upper parking lot every afternoon as parents come to collect their children.2 / 2

If you have ever picked up or dropped off a child at Roosevelt Elementary, you have been to the war zone known as "the north side."

Every weekday morning around 8 a.m. and afternoon around 3:30 p.m., the battle begins as parents attempt to jockey into position for a pick-up or drop off.

"It's nuts, it's crazy," said Roosevelt Principal Jerry Hanson, adding, "I know when I've been up there I've gotten some sign language from parents," he laughs.

Hanson says when that area was built in 1990, it was done so with 450 students in mind.

Now, school enrollment is pushing 700, and that's not the only complicating factor.

"So many families have two working parents now, so there are a lot more people dropping their kids off on the way to work," Hanson said.

Roosevelt parent, Stacy Conn says she doesn't like how all the cars are put so close together while they sit waiting.

"I don't want to complain, but I see these kids trying to squeeze between cars, and I always worry that a parent might accidentally let their foot off the brake or something. It's so crazy there. It's ridiculous."

Officials at the school district could be swooping in like NATO on a peacekeeping mission though, as they begin talks of re-doing that whole area.

School leaders are set to begin phase two of a three-part plan to alleviate traffic congestion at the school.

This summer, the $175,000 plan is to expand the northeast parking lot, which will become solely staff parking.

Then comes the expensive part.

"We plan to revamp the whole area south of the school (in the back of the building) so that parents will no longer pick their kids up on the north side, but will do so on the south side where the buses are now," said the district's business manager, Ted Heisserer.

Heisserer says the traffic flow will be divided so that one area is for parents and another area is for buses.

"We've looked at a lot of different designs, and we now pretty much have it mapped out how we want it to be," said Heisserer.

Exactly when this will happen is still up in the air though, as school officials still need to figure out exactly how much it will cost and how they will pay for it.

"It would be nice if it happened summer of '12, but realistically it'll probably be more like summer of '13," said Heisserer.

In the meantime, school officials are doing the best they can with what they've got.

"We try to put more patrols up there, and after school we have a gentleman trying to help direct traffic a little bit," Hanson said.

That "gentleman" is Ron Badurek.

A custodian at the school, Badurek was given the job nobody wanted a couple of years ago.

He says most of the parents are accustomed to how things are there, but once in a while he does have to deal with ones that are a little "irate."

"I just try to keep my cool and explain the situation to them," said Badurek. "And if that doesn't work, I have them talk to the office about it."

Stacy Conn says how people treat Badurek bothers her even more than the traffic congestion.

"More than a few times I have seen parents yelling at him, and I feel so bad because it isn't his fault."

So, for a while longer, Badurek will have to good-naturedly take parental abuse and parents will have to endure more time in the battle zone until the day the black tar is laid and the white flag raised.