Car Line Number System

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Virginia Williams, Possip reporter with a background in Elementary Education & Special Education from Raleigh, NC, gives school leaders ideas for tackling car line.

Efficiency in Your Car Line

If your school has a car line and you want to re-think its efficiency, then keep reading! 

Below is a description of how to effectively use a car line number system. 
A few quick notes:

  • The system described here has been most useful in elementary schools. 

  • It requires iPads (though a Google Doc with a cell phone could also work) for staff members who are on car line duty. It may yield some additional technology for classroom teachers as well.


Assigning student numbers and staff clear roles can make your process run even more smoothly.

  1. Assign carpool numbers to all students who are car riders. 
    Make sure each student has a backpack tag with their number on it.  These tags should be distributed at orientation or on the first day of school.  Make sure they are laminated and consider color-coding by grade! Siblings or students who consistently ride home together should have the same number.  Think of the number as a CAR identification number rather than a student identification number. So, when a parent is picking up three children, they don’t have to know three different car line numbers.
  2. Assign staff! Assign each staff member to very specific roles. While classroom teachers are moving their students to the designated waiting area, other staff members who are on carline duty should be outside.  Some should be directing traffic. Some should be using iPads to enter car line numbers into a live Google Sheet that looks like this. Once students start leaving, some staff members should be helping them safely get to their cars. 

    Most importantly, there should be a few staff members assigned to be “troubleshooters.” This way, when problems arise, the system can continue running smoothly while a select few teachers handle the issues. 

    All staff members assigned to car line duty should be support staff who don’t have a class assigned to them at the end of day (specials teachers, the special education team, school counselors, etc.). Lastly, there should be four (or more if possible) LARGE & different colored cones indicating where cars will stop for their students.  These cone colors should correspond to the colored columns in the Google Sheet.

Staggering:  A Powerful Tool 

Staggering can help lessen the burden of large numbers of people and kids.

  1. Stagger dismissal! If possible, dismiss bus riders and walkers first, so that teachers are left with only car riders in their classrooms.
  1. Stagger locations– if possible. Once bus riders and walkers are gone, have classroom teachers take their classes to a designated area (school gym, auditorium, etc.) that is close to car line.  If this isn’t an option at your school, it’s definitely fine to have car riders dismissed from classrooms!

Make Information Visible! 

This system helps make information visible for students – and staff.

  1. Visible for Students. If students are in a designated waiting area as described above, make sure the google sheet is projected onto a screen or on the wall so students can be watching for their carline number to appear.  If students are dismissing from their classrooms, classroom teachers should have the google sheet opened on their computers and if possible, displayed on a screen for students to view as well.  **For this to run smoothly, all staff members should have the link to the ‘dismissal screen’ as a bookmark on their laptops!
  2. When students see their number appear on the screen & called out by their teacher, they should note the column color.  That is the cone they should (independently) walk to in the car line area.  The teachers assigned to car line duty will be outside ready to support students and get them home quickly and safely!

Hope this helps drive an efficient and smooth (even joyful!) car line.