Second area district eliminates student busing to reduce budget

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:14

    Byram - Beginning with the 2004-2005 school year, the Byram Public School District will cease providing transportation to and from local daycare centers. This according to a recent letter sent by Superintendent Joseph Pezak to parents of children enrolled in Creative Kidkare and Building Blocks. Roadway safety, annual budget difficulties, legal opinions and the district's transportation contracts all prompted the change in policy said Pezak in the letter. In a phone interview on Monday, Pezak stated that the school had once offered the service to and from the daycare facilities as a "courtesy" to residents, but that as the numbers of enrolled daycare students increased, so did the cost and the logistics for the district. "As it grew, the buses could not handle the numbers," said Pezak, explaining that last school year, the school had paid for a 16-passenger van and for a maintenance worker to drive the students back and forth to the daycare facilities. The driver's salary, as well as gas, and wear and tear on the automobile were all extra expenses coming from the school budget. "That's where the conflict occurs. When we're using school money to support a commercial enterprise," said Pezak. The change in policy has some parents upset. "Basically, school officials are telling parents that they should not be working," said owner of Creative Kidkare and mother of a young son in the district, Anneliese Tartell, on Monday. She said that many parents use her facility to drop their children off before school starts, and need to utilize the bus service to ensure that their youngsters can attend school. "I can't believe they can change this policy without consulting us," said one Byram mother Karen Dellosso. "What am I suppose to do with my children? I'm not made of money." Dellosso said that as a local taxpayer she should be entitled to a bus stop for her children, and not necessarily at her home if she so chose. She said that she would have no problem making Creative Kidkare the permanent bus stop for her children. "Even if I were off that day, I would drive them to the daycare to utilize their one bus stop," said Dellosso. Besides money, Pezak said there is also a legal roadblock because public school buses cannot enter private property. In order to drop off and pick up children at Creative Kidkare, school busses would have to let off and on large numbers of children on the highly traveled roadway of Lackawanna Drive. "One reason they gave was safety issues, and there has never been a problem with safety," said Tartell. "Is it safer for a child to be watched or get on a bus alone?" In response to some of the parent complaints about not being notified, Pezak said the change was included on the school board agenda during the month of June before it was finalized on June 23. Approximately 100 children attending both Creative Kidkare and Building Blocks will be affected by the newest change in bussing policy.