Over a Dozen Providence School Buses Late More than 50% in Oct.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

 

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Recently released data by the Providence school department has showed how many busses were late last month -- and at what schools.

Data recently released by the Providence School Department showed that for the month of October, over a dozen city school buses were late, either on the morning or afternoon run, over 50% of the time.

In total, 21 first-tier buses were recorded as late at least 6% of the time during October, with one bus reporting being late 35% of the time. 47 second-tier buses, which follow after the first-tier runs, were reported as late ranging from 6% of the time -- to one being late 94% of the time.  

See Buses -- and Schools -- with Most Reported Late Times in October HERE

"I pushed to get this detailed data from the district, although it took me weeks to retrieve," said Providence parent Kira Weidner-Greene. "I knew it would reveal that the bussing issue could be identified in concentrated bus runs, mostly 2nd tier routes, busses that must wait for the bus to deliver earlier start time students. Busses are now merged into 1st, 2nd tier routes as a direct result of the Mayor's budget cut to public school transportation."

School bussing issues have persisted since the beginning of the year, and first came to a head when parents, outraged over an incident where a bus got lost and let kids off, banded together to voice their concerns to the City and School Board.  

A Facebook group was formed, "Providence Parents Concerned about School Bus and Public School Issues" by Providence parent Michele Meek, who this week sent an e-newsletter out on the statistics, which were requested by parents and recently provided by the Providence Public School Department.  

"Per our requests, we received the statistics on Providence school busses for October 2013. Overall, there were 9 percent of busses late in October 2013, which is small improvement over the 11 percent statistic we were given by PPSD in September," Meek wrote in the newsletter.  "As you will see, some busses were quite consistently late -- with the worst being Bus 101 to Carl Lauro which was late 82% of mornings. Schools with the excessively late busses included Carl Lauro, Vartan-Gregorian, Spaziano, Broad, Webster, Kennedy, West, Fogarty, Reservoir, Kirzirian, Carnevale and Martin Luther King."

Meek ended the message expressing interest that the school department would continue to work to rectify the bus issues.  "So if they actually do perform an efficient, intelligent re-routing mid-year, perhaps more children can get to school on time. We will follow up with PPSD on statistics monthly so that we can see if there are improvements."

School Department, Board, Addressing Issue

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Keith Oliveira, President of the Providence Public School Board, said that according to the corrective action plan that Superintendent Susan Lusi reported to the School Board, "at least two buses (more if necessary) will be added to the fleet on the road. The additional buses began running this week."

"A major overhaul is currently underway," said Oliveira. "The bus routes are being re-engineered to provide more time between the drop-offs of middle school students and pick-up of the elementary school students. The re-engineering of bus routes will respond to the recommendations of the transportation consultants review."

Oliveira was optimistic that the outstanding issues with the late school buses could be addressed -- and rectified.

"I expect that these corrective actions will reduce the number and percentage of busses that have been late since the beginning of the school year. At our last school board meeting, we directed the administration to report back at the next school board meeting the impact of these actions."

Concerns Persist

Providence parents have weighed in on their issues at both public forums and online, including Vartan Gregorian parent Susan Teeden-Cielo.

"My daughter is in an integrated Pre-K class at [Vartan Gregorian]," said Teeden-Cielo. "She was also in the same class and on the same bus last year. I remember there only being one or two instances last year with the bus being late."

"This year, the bus was late by one hour beginning on the first day of school," continued Teeden-Cielo. "We have had four different drivers since the start of the school year," and noted that the bus times have continued to be "inconsistent" since the beginning of the year.  "I truly believe this is a city-wide issue, an issue with lack of communication between (bus company) First Student and PPSD, and an issue with increased pickups and decreased drivers, monitors, and the removal of teachers assistants on the buses."

Teeden-Cielo mentioned bus driver Tanya Dejesus, who attended a public forum , and spoke out about bussing issues at the first meetings that took place.

"She stated that the routes (drivers) were given were all over the city," said Teeden-Cielo. "Especially our bus, 35w, the wheelchair/special needs bus. It''s the only bus for VG and picks up children from all over the city. "

Questioning Consolidation

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Vartan Gregorian was one of the schools where busses were consistently late last month.

Weidner-Greene questioned the impact of school -- and bus route -- consolidation on families in Providence.   

"This transportation issue begs the question, at what cost did the Mayor balance the ship? And I am sure many could give different answers, but my answer is, on the backs of city youth being delivered late to school every day. What is even more concerning at this point, now that we are in mid-November, we have been told little on what the district is doing about it besides adding a couple of busses here or there, which clearly will not fix the entirety of this issue.

Weidner-Greene continued, "The city and the school district needs to solve the underlying problem, as stated in the consultants report, which is the haphazard way in which students are assigned to schools all over the city, a problem which they clearly have chosen to ignore for years. The consultant, hired by the city, referred to this issue as having a "domino effect" on families all over the city."

Colleen Jermain with the PPSD, who issued the bus report, did not respond to request for comment.  

 

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