Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Safety and Grass Roots

The bus route that our kids take has been changed this year, right out from under out noses. Here is the letter that I am sending to the School Board as well as the town’s Selectmen. I’ve posted it on FB. If you know anyone who lives in the Hartford, VT, School District, please pass this along to them.

Even if you can’t make it to the meeting, please call the Superintendent’s office and voice your concerns at 802-295-8600. Thank you!

Imagine our surprise, 3 days before school started this year, to learn
that our bus route had been changed. We didn't learn this from the
school, we learned this by chance from a parent who was looking into
sending their child to my wife's daycare for after school care. If my
wife wasn't being interviewed by this potential client, we never would
have known of the changes until our 6 year old son was dropped off on
the side of the road on a major street in Hartford Village.
When my wife learned of the changes, she immediately called the bus
garage to get clarification and explanation for the change to our
route. She was told, "Well, I was told that I had to cut the budget,
so I made changes" by the manager. When my wife attempted to express
her concerns about the potential dangers involved, she was told that
"there are older kids who get dropped off there, too. They can look
after your child."
What? Since when does it become the responsibility of the neighborhood
kids to see that our child makes it home ok? Isn't that the school and
bus' responsibility? What the manager also doesn't realize is that
most of the older kids in our neighborhood are also athletes and are
typically not on the bus in the evening. Between the new drop off
point and the relative safety of our cul-de-sac, there is a blind
corner that most people cut when coming down the hill, in the
direction of the pedestrians. There is no sidewalk, and nowhere for
kids to walk except in the road.
This corner is dangerous on a July afternoon. I can't imaginedownhill
expecting my child, or any of my neighbor's children, to walk that
route in the waining light of a cold, snowy, icy February afternoon.
While I almost understand the need to cut corners with bus costs, I
don't understand why we have to do it at the risk of the kids. Ours is
not the only route changed, and I have heard that some kids now have
to walk close to half a mile to get to their old drop off locations.
This is intolerable.
At the end of my wife's conversation with the bus garage manager, she
was told to contact the Superintendent's Office to voice her concerns.
The call was made, and my wife was directed to speak Jim, the
Financing Director. My wife had to leave a voice mail message, inblind corner
which she briefly expressed our concerns and asked for a return call.
Nearly 2 weeks later, we have yet to hear back from Jim.
During the first week of school, our son was nearly hit by a car while
walking home from school. If it had been in the winter, he'd very
likely been hit.
current bus stopThe morning pick-up has remained unchanged; a group of kids get picked
up at the end of our cul-de-sac, then the bus continues up the hill to
the upper cul-de-sac, picking up those kids. Safe. Convenient. Parents
are able to watch the bus stop areas to make sure the kids are
treating each other respectfully.
If true, hard dollars are being saved by placing our kids in harms way
because of the bus changes, I would like to propose the following
solution, at least for our neighborhood:
Have the kids PICKED UP at the new location, but dropped off at the
old. Why? Supervision. In the mornings, our neighborhood has parents
who are around and willing to wait with the kids on the side of the
busy street. In the afternoons, all of the parents are at work, and no
one can help monitor their safety.
I implore you to look into this as an alternative to the existing
route, but would really rather see the town revert back to the routes
that have been travelled for at least the past 10 years. Let's work
together to find some fiscal savings without putting our children in
potential physical harm's way.
The Soboleskis.

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