School buses dropping children off hours late to school and returning them home late in the evening. Buses arriving too early or late for pickups. Drivers reading routes off papers behind the wheel, speeding and other unsafe driving. Overcrowded buses. Rude representatives at the bus company.
These were the most common issues raised by many District 15 private school parents on Monday at the Lawrence Board of Education’s regular meeting. Members of the board and Superintendent Gary Schall acknowledged the problem, with Schall promising all issues will be resolved when students return to school on Monday.
“When schools reopen, we should be up and running to everyone’s satisfaction,” Schall told the crowd at the Number Four School.
Board members threw the blame at Independent Coach, which is contracted to the district until the end of the school year. Four drivers have already been fired this year.
“There’s no excuse. We’re going to make every attempt to fix it,” said Trustee Dr. Asher Mansdorf. “We made the mistake of assuming our bus company would do it. We know what needs to be done.”
Lawrence, with its high rate of private school students, has the third most intricate transportation systems in New York State, according to Schall. The district is responsible for the busing of 7,500 students to 75 schools across Nassau County, Brooklyn and Queens.
Parents and school officials said that many drivers were unprepared to handle their routes, and did not prepare in advance. Dry runs will be conducted over the next few days.
Independent Coach Vice President Michael Fabrizio said that dry runs had been performed prior to school opening, but that the first few weeks of school are always chaotic.
“Things that went wrong, we will fix,” he told Patch. “If you look at everything in total, I would say 90 percent had no problems.”
Schall said that the district has partnered with private school principals to better communication. Any issues should be reported to the district at 295-7065 or firstname.lastname@example.org.Jesse Lunin-Pack, summarizing every parents’ concern, said, “Kids don’t learn while they’re on the bus. They need to be transferred to and from school in a timely manner.”