The first day back from a two-week break was a little busier than usual at one elementary school in south Kitchener.

Added to the usual mix of students, parents and teachers coming and going at J.W. Gerth Public School was bylaw officer Mike Eckert, who was there in response to complaints from the school community.

“With all the cars coming in and out of the parking lots, they think the safety of the children is a concern,” he said.

With the school’s parking lot full and a school zone making parking directly in front of it illegal, parents are supposed to park down the street and walk younger children the rest of the way.

Tamara MacKinnon, like many parents, does exactly that.

“It sends a good message to your kids too – that walking to school is good exercise,” she said.

But not everyone follows that method.

Parents say they’ve seen vehicles do everything from stop in no-stopping school zones to block fire routes to use accessible parking spaces.

“They’re just breaking all the rules,” said Penelope Sisk, who says there have been multiple collisions in the parking lot during drop-off and pickup times.

Even school principal Susan Schaffner describes the morning drop-off parking jam as “chaos.”

On Monday, even with the bylaw officer and a news crew present, CTV cameras captured one parent receive an $80 fine for stopping in a school zone, while another was dinged $300 for parking in an accessible space without a permit.

“I’m there for like five minutes dropping my kids off,” the second driver protested.

Schaffner says the accessible spaces are regularly used by people who do have permits for them.

“We have several parents who absolutely need that space,” she said.

“We recognize it’s very inconvenient for many of our families, but we care about our kids – and really, that’s the bottom line.”

J.W. Gerth has 730 students, which is far more than was anticipated when it was built.

Those enrolment pressures – and the ensuing parking zoo – will be eased in September, when a new elementary school opens in south Kitchener.

With reporting by Allison Tanner