POTTSTOWN PA – A plan to use Pottsgrove Middle School as a morning and afternoon transfer point for dozens of Pottsgrove School District resident-students who attend private schools gets put to its first real test today (Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2013). It may reduce bus mileage and save the district money, parents say, but they also claim it requires their children to rise much earlier.
Pottsgrove and other districts are required by state law to furnish public transportation to students who attend non-public institutions. In years past, individual Pottsgrove buses made circuitous routes throughout the district, directly picking up and dropping off children bound for private schools like Wyndcroft in Pottstown and Pope John Paul II High School in Royersford.
This year, though, children will be picked up by a bus near their homes, driven to the middle school on North Charlotte Street, transfer to a second bus, and ride it to their private school. The bus transfers process gets reversed for home-bound traffic, and is intended to “improve the efficiency and reliability of transportation services provided to our non-public school partners,” according to the district website.
Morning transfer buses leave the middle school at 7:20 a.m. for Pope John Paul, Blessed Theresa of Calcutta, Wyndcroft, Holy Cross School, Valley Forge Baptist, and elementary classes at Coventry Cristian Academy at 7:20 a.m.; and at 7:25 a.m. for Berks Christian Academy, Immaculate Conception School, St. Francis School, the secondary classes at Coventry Cristian Academy, St. Aloysius, The Hill School, and West-Mont Christian Academy.
“Wow … these kids will get getting on the bus before my Middle Schooler even gets out of bed!,” parent Lori Keefer noted on a very popular conversation thread post launched last week on the Facebook page for Pottsgrove Residents Information/Discussion on Education (PRIDE).
As of Tuesday morning, more than 117 comments were added to the thread. Most are from disconcerted parents who said their students will be forced to prepare for the day earlier than those in district schools, and will wait longer in the afternoon to catch buses back to the transfer point.
“I am VERY UPSET over the fact that my daughter is scheduled to be picked up at 6:45AM, travel to the MS, switch buses to get to St. Aloysius at 8AM. Are you kidding me?,” wrote parent Katy Clark Potpinko. “There is absolutely NO REASON WHAT SO EVER this needs to happen. Put more buses on the road to accommodate their schedules.”
“Is the district going to pay for the extended care the kids will need who are arriving at school too early?,” asked parent Sharen McGill. “How about the extra staff they are going to have on hand to assure that these young elementary school students are going to make it to the correct bus. Don’t tell me this is the more cost-effective way to do things.”
Threads among other Pottsgrove-related Facebook groups echoed those sentiments too.
The district’s message about its change assures parents that employees of CMD Transportation, whose drivers handle Pottsgrove’s busing duties, “will be at the Middle School to help the younger students get to the proper bus. All students will be assigned seats on their bus to ensure student safety.”
And it added, “we seek your support as we work toward improving the transportation experience for our non-public school students.”
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