My Goal in Blogging

I started this blog in May of 2008, shortly after my election to the School Committee, because I believed it was very important to both provide the community with an opportunity to share their thoughts with me about our schools and to provide me with an opportunity for me to ask questions and share my thoughts and reasoning. I have found the conversation generated on my blog to be extremely helpful to me in learning community views on many issues. I appreciate the many people who have taken the time to share their views. I believe it is critical to the quality of our public schools to have a public discussion of our community priorities, concerns and aspirations.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Amherst eyes fewer bus stops

23 comments:

LarryK4 said...

Walking is great exercise. And Phys Ed is no longer a requirement...

Kathy Reckendorf said...

If you really want to save money on buses, you should find a way to get parents to sign up for or waive the use of the buses. Every morning and every afternoon the majority of buses at the secondary level are close to empty. We only need about half the number of buses we are using - how much money would that save?

Anonymous said...

The school board also should consider the safety of the children as they walk to particular bus stops. Many streets have no sidewalks and no shoulders in the winter with snow piled up. It's easy to be snarky about kids walking a quarter mile, but maybe not when it's your first grader walking in the street in the winter because there is no other place to walk.

Anonymous said...

Larry, dear, Phys Ed is still required. It gobbles up a ridiculous amount of time at the middle and high schools, is widely disparaged by the kids, and comes at the cost of academics.

Anonymous said...

Kathy, the buses are pretty full in the morning but not in the afternoon due to kids staying for help, sports, clubs or just to walk downtown. It is something they should look at but probably cant predict.
Anon 8:57, PE isn't required after 9th grade, and I wouldn't even call that experience physical.

Anonymous said...

I think this is a good way to cut trans costs -- thanks for examining this. People will whine - but I think this is going to be a necessary sacrifice.

This is going to sound radical to some but I was thinking that the hilltowns could have one or two pick-up/drop-off locations such as the town hall in Shutesbury, Leverett co-op, Pelham elementary & bldg near 202, etc...and maybe South Amherst could have the So Amh common.

Anonymous said...

Bus transportation was a necessity in rural America as many agricultural families did not leave the farm nor had means to do so to get children to central areas for schools.

In this day and age it's an an anachronism.

Anonymous said...

I think bus transportation to/from school is still a necessity for a lot of families and is much better for traffic/safety/the environment than relying on parents taking their kids to/from school. But I think central bus stops for each neighborhood is a great idea! Our kids do need to exercise more and it will save money and gas. The elementary school bus in my neighborhood stops every few feet; it is ridiculous! As long as kids don't have to walk down busy streets with high speed limits and no sidewalks, I am all in favor of this move. Especially for the middle and high school students! If they can swarm all over the downtown area, they can certainly walk a little farther to their bus stop!

Anonymous said...

By all means, eliminate the physical activity of all the energetic growing kids that gobbles up so much time during the day and give them sedatives so they can sit still and study?

Anonymous said...

Invite Larry to give a symposium on free speech: private parades versus guests of the University.

Anonymous said...

Oh thank God! Have you ever driven down South East St at 7:15am. Those buses will make three stops 100ft or less apart, sometimes barely the length of the bus.
This is the first good idea that has come out of the school system in recent memory.

Anonymous said...

S. East St. is a busy and dangerous road for children to walk on. Buses should continue to pick children up at their homes.

Anonymous said...

South East Street does at least have a sidewalk, unlike many other places in town. Or at least a sidewalk on one side. Although I agree it is a busy street, especially during the morning bus time. Maybe make just a few stops on the sidewalk side and more on the non-sidewalk side?

Anonymous said...

Anon 1:58 p.m. Isn't that what the schools do now? Sad--really sad that some teachers think they are doctors and can suggest (not prescribe as they might like) ADHD medication to the parents for their children who are behaving like children are supposed to behave! A quick fix for the teacher (drugging the kid) leaves the child with life long deteriation of their inner organs....And they give workshops on how to look for signs of ADHD students--And guess who gives them??? The doctor!! The one who profits from all the prescriptions...$$$ What a racket--scary, but very true!!

Anonymous said...

I agree with Kathy Reckendorf's post.

But to go further, I think we should be tracking how much use each "bus" student (non-waived) actually uses the bus.

People are wont to sign up for anything "free" and then feel it's acceptable to not use it.

Transportation should be provided only for those that TRULY need it and want it. Contracting out based on total number of students is absurd.

The line of cars awaiting their turns to drop off students at the schools my children attended was signficant. But I'm sure most (exept for school choice students) were being counted in the need for buses.

Anonymous said...

What about a bus fee for kids who want to take the bus? (of course, free/reduced bus for free/reduced lunch kids).

This way, the ones who take the bus pay for it and it saves the district some money. Eventually, the other option becomes no bus at all for everyone - like what is happening in some cities in western mass (or so I heard in a news blurb last night on TV).

It would make me think twice whether I drive the kids to school in the morning, to save ourselves 15 minutes. I like the afternoon bus because I don't have to leave the house. But I do pick up the kids from school once a week for a specific activity. So in reality I probably use 4 of the 10 bus rides per week per kid. If I have to pay for their bus rides, I would be smarter about how they use the bus. And I suspect many other people would as well.

Anonymous said...

If we charge for bus (for non free /reduced lunch), what happens most parents who pay for their kids to ride the bus opt out. You still have to run the bus for the few who pay or on free/reduced lunch. This would end up costing the school system the same and parents who pay the taxes get one less service free.

Northampton charges a fee for bus for students in 7 - 12 grades. We should check out how it is working for them.

Anonymous said...

I agree that we would still have to pay for buses for free/reduced lunch - but these fewer buses could cover much larger areas (and sure, maybe the bus ride is 45 minutes to 1 hour long).. but that is the price we pay for the failing economy.

We can't have everything, and if we're talking about cutting to the bone, I would much rather have the money spent on core academic subjects like math, reading, science and social studies than on peripherals like lunch and the bus. I don't mind if we just cut out lunch as well and have everyone bring their own.

That's what happens in LOTS of schools around the country (tiny library, no lunch, no bus, no music, art, or PE). I know because that's how my kid's school in California was. And this was considered a really good school because the kids do well academically.

PE/Art/Music/Buses/Cafeterias/field trips are all extras, they're not mandated parts of the curriculum. If we're talking cuts, we need to cut those things, not things that are part of "regular education.

Anonymous said...

There is no sidewalk on S. East St. beyond the S. Amherst Common (going towards Bay Rd). The speed limit ranges from 35mph to 40 mph. Cars easily approach 50mph in this area.

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:28
Maybe this is one of those areas where we could, as a community think outside of the box and come up with creative solutions. How about a consortium of parents that get together and take turns being the crossing guard. If you can get enough parents together its not too much of a burden on any one family and it address safety concerns of having children walking on south east steet.

Anonymous said...

How would a crossing guard help kids who have to walk on SE street where there are no sidewalks? I don't understand how that would make it safer.

Secondly, I think most parents have to go to work in the morning. How would they be able to take time to do crossing guard duties and go to work at the same time?

Anonymous said...

why don't people just drive more slowly or actually have the police enforce the speeding limits. think of all the income to the town in speeding ticket fees.

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