POTTSTOWN PA – A letter that Superintendent Shellie Feola said would be sent Friday (Sept. 20, 2013) to parents of Pottsgrove district students who attend private and parochial schools confirms she intends to ask the Board of School Directors to have “an independent third party … audit our non-public school transportation system and make recommendations.”
The letter, from Business Administrator David Nester, acknowledged that parents who attended Thursday’s (Sept. 19) meeting of the board Transportation Committee “did not support any of the concepts” presented by the district to address safety concerns and complaints about too-early morning pick-up and too-late evening drop-off bus times for their children.
- The letter is posted on the district website, here.
- The district also has its technology department compiling an e-mail list to reach this select group of parents directly, and anticipates it will be completed today, Technology and Communications Director Michael Wagman said.
The district changed its busing system for non-public students this year, Nester’s letter explained, “to improve the efficiency of the system as a whole.” Unlike in earlier years, Pottsgrove plan emulates that of some neighboring districts, in which private school students are bused to a central location – in this case, Pottsgrove Middle School – then transferred to a second set of buses headed for destination schools. The process is reversed in the afternoon.
With the change, Nester wrote, “some of the specific areas that we sought to address were:
- Reducing the number of vehicles traveling through communities;
- Improving the reliability and predictability of stop times;
- Improving our ability to deliver both our non-public and public students to school on time;
- Developing a scalable platform that would more easily allow us to address changes in student population (or) ridership;
- Balancing ride times among all non-public school students; (and)
- Better service (for) our special needs students with available smaller vehicles.”
Several parents who have spoken to the school board in recent weeks contend the district has missed the mark in meeting some of those goals. They described having to sacrifice family or extracurricular activities because students must rise earlier for school and arrive home later. They publicly worried about the possibility of accidents as fall darkness sets in. They claimed some students are either too early for classes and wait unnecessarily, or arrive after classes start.
Nester’s letter reported the district has worked “closely” with its transportation contractor, CMD Services Inc., “to develop possible solutions” that were presented Thursday night. None of the options won public favor, he noted.
- A copy of the presentation is expected to be available online sometime Friday at the district website, here.
Feola expects to seek board approval for the transportation audit during its meeting next Tuesday (Sept. 24) at 7:30 p.m. in the district office on Kauffman Road, according to the letter. “We will keep you informed on this process as it evolves,” it promised.
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