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Superintendent Addresses Bus Transportation Issues With Parents

Students can ride buses without a bus pass until Oct. 5.

Parents who recently discovered that their children would not receive busing to school despite receiving it in the past got to discuss the issue with Patchogue-Medford School District Superintendent Michael Locantore at a meeting last Wednesday at Saxton Middle School and at Monday's Board of Education meeting at South Ocean Middle School.

Locantore said at Wednesday's meeting that the previous routing computer system the district was using was extremely antiquated. A new computer system was brought in, but Locantore said that unbeknownst to him, the system had taken a very long time to run a report.

"It was unable to run a report until the very last days of August," Locantore said.

As a result of the short notice to families, Locantore granted a 30-day window to parents and students to allow students who have since been denied busing the ability to ride the school's transportation while parents can prepare to make proper accommodations for their children. The window, which closes on Oct. 5, allows any student to ride a bus without a bus pass. Once the window closes, students will be required to bring a bus pass on board if eligible, and families who are still not eligible to receive a bus can be ready.

The new bus routing system did find that several families who have been receiving busing in previous years, actually live too close to the school to receive it and have since been denied access.

Locantore said that the boundaries, which were set many years ago, are half a mile for grades K-5, one mile for grades 6-8, and a mile and a half for grades 9-12.

"Currently there has been no changes, the change was updating the antiquated routing system," Locantore said.

Assistant Superintendent of Business Donna Jones added that the old system had, in some cases, gave busing to families living less than .3 miles from their school.

Several parents attending both meetings whose children will no longer be able to ride the bus were concerned about the nature of the streets involved. Southaven Avenue in Medford was particularly mentioned at Monday's Board of Education meeting.

Jones said Monday that there are currently crossing guards stationed on school days at the intersections of Southaven Avenue and Route 112 and at Tremont Avenue and Southaven Avenue. At the request of a parent, Jones said she would also call Suffolk County Police Department's Fifth Precinct to request coverage of Southaven Avenue and Richmond Avenue, which is in proximity of both Tremont Elementary School and Oregon Middle School.

Families have also been given the opportunity to have their mileage from their home re-clocked, which they can ask for by contacting the school district. Locantore said at Monday's Board of Education meeting that over 100 re-clockings have been processed.

Also announced at Monday's meeting, the Board of Education is forming a committee to discuss bus transportation issues. While members of the public will not be able to join the committee, the meetings will be publicly noticed by the district and the public can attend to watch them.

Resident Brian Buccinna asked during public comment if any family who is denied busing could use a day care provider in another part of Medford that is eligible. The response from several officials was that under current policy, that is most likely possible using the child care form that can be filled out at the district office. However it was not fully confirmed as being a potential option.

Have you lost busing for your student for the upcoming year? What are your thoughts on the situation? Talk about it in the comments below.

Kathleen Rubinstein September 26, 2012 at 04:42 AM
My children have attended Medford Elementary School and South Ocean Middle School. I want to know why we are always short changed on safety in front of these two schools? Medford Elementary is probably located in the most dangerous area of all of the schools in this district. Years ago we tried to get signs to warn people that there was a school there and to have the speed limit reduced. We even had News 12 there. There have been many close calls over the years in front of the school. There is only one crossing guard there and she is incredible but there really should be more than one crossing guard at other areas near the school. Now for South Ocean - for years there was never even a crosswalk in front of the school till I believe last year. The crossing guard is all the way down on the corner not near the school. Once again a very dangerous area to cross in front of that school at dismissal and arrival. There is a need for more than one crossing guard there as well. I have seen 3 crossing guards between Barton and Saxton. These schools are located on streets with less traffic. I feel that the schools in the south part of this district are being treated with less care and concern for the students' safety. If the busses are being denied to the students the district needs to provide more supervision on the streets for these kids to cross safely.
Janice H September 26, 2012 at 01:20 PM
My children have always walked to school in this district. The only bus we have is for the highschool which my oldest is riding. I am fortunate that I am able to pick up and drop off my kids because THERE are no crossing guards available and each child one in Bay and one in South Ocean have to cross without crossing guards. The crossing guard at BAY is situated in the front of the school but the children ARE NOT allowed to enter that way. WALKING home my son must walk out the back of building and around the long way and cross at a very very very dangerous part of bay ave where cars come flying down at speeds of fifty plus sometimes. The school will not let them out of front of the bulding WHERE THE GUARD IS and cross to walk home. THAT simple exit would elimate my child crossing at a dangerous area and me having to pick him up if I want to ensure his safety. THE whole thing is insane. I walked home from Bay as a child, exited the front crossed at the guard and walked home three blocks without having to cross any streets without a guard. IT seems to me that there is something seriuosly wrong with these schools and safety issues.
Laura September 26, 2012 at 11:58 PM
After reading the comments above I have to wonder if the decision makers have any common sense. It's a sorry situation. I'd think there'd be a problem solving session that would actually resolve parents' concerns for their children. I went to Pat-Med from '66 to '79 and my 5 children attended from '92 to '2010. Some things never change. Unreal.
Kelly S September 27, 2012 at 02:51 AM
Funny if you are under the required mileage you wont get bus - but if your babysitter is over the required mileage you can get bussing for your kid - so pretty much everyone who has had thier bussing cut should just fill out the babysitting form and use a different address - unbeleivable!!
Elizabeth K September 27, 2012 at 12:23 PM
Bay needs a crossing guard at the corner of Bailey and Edwards St. I have stopped in my car to allow children to cross and have been passed on the left of me. Scary.
JD September 30, 2012 at 08:58 PM
My neighbor received an email from Tom Donofrio, the president of the BOE, which said that he is recommending to the BOE on Monday that the temporary bussing be extended another 30 days beyond the original 30 days.

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