NORTH PROVIDENCE – Most of the busing concerns from the first few days of the school year have been cleared up, according to school officials, with the notable exception of statewide busing for out-of-district students and others who use it.
Supt. Joseph Goho said there were really only two days of minor bus issues on the first two days of school, Sept. 1-2, and he received no other complaints. An issue with a bus at Whelan Elementary School was resolved right away, he said.
All of last week, buses from busing provider Durham School Services were back at the yard before 4:30 p.m., which is where the district stood pre-pandemic, said Goho.
“There are occasional days where they are short bus drivers, which may impact an individual bus route,” he said.
Problems continue with statewide busing, he said.
The Breeze reported last week that most busing issues to date had been with statewide busing and the continued driver shortage.
Resident Marissa Harrison said this week that some of the delays at the beginning of the school year, particularly at pick-up time, are due to parents cutting each other off and messing up traffic flow. The morning isn’t so bad, she said, but “in the afternoon, it’s always a mess the first few weeks.”
Harrison said she contacted school officials over the summer to see if bus routes would be going back to pre-pandemic scenarios, but was told just before the start of school that a bus wouldn’t be available to her family as it previously was when her daughter was in kindergarten and it came through their neighborhood because they live within walking distance of Stephen Olney Elementary School. She said having her children walk would mean “quite a hike” for them, over roads that have no sidewalks, so that’s not an option.
Harrison said she knows school officials don’t want to change things because they believe this situation works and children are safe, but she doesn’t feel they would be safe if it ever came down to them needing to walk to school. Parents who have no choice but to have their students walk to school are left only with only an unsafe option, she said.
Goho said this week that there were no changes to busing policies for this year. The eligibility is one mile, he said. If parents are concerned that there is a safety issue with the walking route, officials send out Director of Transportation Jim Fuoroli, along with the North Providence Police Department, to determine if an exception needs to be made.
“This year, exceptions to the policy have been rare because many buses are already full and Durham cannot accommodate exceptions to eligibility policies,” he said.