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New BC busing brings complaints, changes

District struggles to find happy medium on stops after slew of parent calls

Anyone who regularly attends Board of Education meetings or the district's annual budget forums knows transportation is near the top of everyone's list when it comes to changes the schools should make. It has a direct impact on parents' mornings, as well as on childless motorists, and is the most visible part of school operations.

This year the school district set out to address some of the comments it's been hearing for years by consolidating bus stops for its 5,500 students serviced by school buses. But the result has been a concern of a different sort.

People have been complaining for years that we should be cutting back on the high school routes, people have been complaining for a long time there are too many bus stops and they're slowing the traffic down, Superintendent Michael Tebbano said. "We thought that's what people wanted to have."

The start of the school year has brought a new battery of complaints that students are being made to walk too far to the new stops, in some instances prompting parental concern about safety. This has caused the Transportation Department to scramble to rework the bus routes, hoping to find a happy medium

Department Supervisor Al Karam said his office fielded approximately 1,000 phone calls and received hundreds of e-mails in the first week of school.

"When the parents finally looked at the routing information they weren't too happy," he said.

The complaints were mostly safety related. Parents were concerned their children had to walk too far to bus stops, sometimes in areas with poor or no lighting, no sidewalks or in neighborhoods with sex offenders. And in the era of the cell phone, distracted driving is a constant concern when snow banks might force kids to walk in the roadway.

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