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.