Bus route changes remain hot topic

JOHNSONBURG – The changes to the bus route schedule at the Johnsonburg Area School District continue to frustrate parents, following a Transportation Committee meeting held on Oct. 4 board members voted against making any changes to the bus route despite a large number of concerned parents.Concerned parent Rocco DeFranco attended Thursday night's school board meeting for an update on the matter."From what I heard from people that went to the Transportation Committee meeting was that they were told that nothing was going to be done and that's why we don't have anyone here because everyone is pretty discouraged," DeFranco said. "The reality is our kids are on the buses for an hour. You know how hard all day kindergarten is on a kid and then to add an hour and a half on to it for bus travel."According to board president Robert J. Paladino, students are not on the buses for more than 50 minutes."Lisa gathered data from the surrounding school districts to see if we were out of line or in line and it turns out we are in line," Paladino said. "We are not any worse than any other districts. I know these folks did a lot of work in getting the questions answered that were brought up at the past meeting. We are really focusing in on the safety concerns, also gathering data from other school districts as to how long other students are on the buses."DeFranco continued to explain the dangers associated with students riding the bus for an extended period of time."My children at the end of the week, if they rode the bus would be in Cleveland from the extra miles they spend on the bus," DeFranco said. "They would reach the Pacific Ocean and back and halfway across the Mississippi at the end of the school year and my daughter would be four times around the Earth by the time she graduates."With the changes to the routes and cutting the number of buses on the road, the school district's reimbursement has increased to 75 percent from last year's 57 percent. This change is expected to bring in up to $100,000 in additional revenue for the district.Board member David Sallack agreed with DeFranco on the risks associated with the new routes."My kids ride the bus and for that amount of money... I see the buses and I see them roaring around and it would be interesting to put a Pa. State Trooper radar on some of them," Sallack said. "As soon as we get the first snow around here, I think it's not a matter of if, but a matter of when a bus wrecks and I'd hate to see any kid get killed on a bus."Pick up a copy of the Friday, Oct. 14, 2011 edition of The Ridgway Record for more.Next meetingJohnsonburg Area School DistrictSchool BoardThursday, Nov. 107 p.m.High School Library