Some parents are looking to raise some awareness about the busing situation for Dresden Area Central School.
Dresden resident Ginny Hawken recently got approved for a courtesy seat by Student Transportation Services for her daughter who is entering Junior Kindergarten in the fall.
However, this was for their home address on Sydenham Street just outside of the Dresden town limits. She was denied a seat on the bus, which stops at her day care providers home in town. This is where her daughter will be before school on a daily basis.
“We need a bus, I work in Chatham and I work full-time, my husband is a contractor and he works early mornings, we rely on day care,” Hawken said. “They said sorry that bus is full, you can re-apply the third week of September.”
Hawken said she believes there should be ways for the routes to be adjusted, without any additional cost.
“I’m thinking I’m giving two months to make arrangements, however they said for courtesy seats it is a luxury, we’re not going to request another bus or change routes of buses to accommodate a courtesy seat,” she said. “I’ve had parents tell me that all of the rural buses that go down some of the streets that are requiring pickup only have 10 to 15 kids on them on any given day, so they very well could stop but they don’t… why can’t they change their routes if they have two months to prepare?”
Hawken said her friend ran into a similar situation last year for her son.
“She ended up having to drive her child to school for September, which caused her to be late for work, and finally in October got the seat,” Hawken said. “She went to the bus stop where her child was suppose to be getting on, which was her day care provider, and she counted the kids on the bus. Every day she was sending them an e-mail, there was nine kids on the bus today, there was 10 kids today, there was 15 today. Never once was the bus full. They didn’t get back to her until almost October.”
Hawken said she posted online to a Facebook group, encouraging parents to use the “opt-out” option on the Student Transportation Services website.
“What I’ve been told is people that are 1.6 kilometers away from DACS are automatically assigned a seat on the bus, however some of those kids walk or they get driven to school by their parents. So those seats are spoken for by these kids, however they don’t ride the bus,” she said.
Hawken said she contacted the office of MPP Monte McNaughton, who encouraged her to create a list of parents in the Dresden community who are being effected by this situation.
“I’ve heard this has been brought up in the past and this just keep getting overlooked,” she said. “I don’t understand what the difference is, I pay taxes like anybody else whether it is a courtesy seat or not, if they require it on a full-time basis they should be given a seat.”
Hawken added: “I’d like to create an awareness of the issues and hopefully generate some talk as well as a list of names to present to our MPP. I have no idea what they will be able to do.”
E-mails by the Sydenham Current to Student Transportation Services have yet to be returned.
The Student Transportation Services website defines a courtesy seat as an approved seat on a bus for students:
– That available space exists on an existing bus route
– That the student uses an existing stop location. An additional stop can be added if it is on the existing path of the route and if it is outside of the walk boundary of the school
– That there is no additional cost to the board (For example – Time for mileage added)
– That the change is not for a temporary situation
– That the student’s pick up and/or drop off point is consistent every school day
Student Transportation Services says courtesy seat applications for the 2014/15 school year started being accepted on July 2nd, 2014 at 10 a.m. Their website states that all applications made by August 15th will be responded to prior to the school year starting.