Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

December 12, 2013

City school district to review bus runs

BY JOE OLENICK joe.olenick@lockportjournal.com
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Parents on Young Road are upset over a recent busing change, but Lockport City School officials say they are just following their own policy and that of the state education department.

However, there are plans to review the district’s bus runs sometime over the winter, school officials said. But, no changes would be made until September 2014 at the earliest.

Starting Monday, children who live on Young Road will be picked up at a bus stop at the corner where the road meets Sunset Drive. Prior to the change, kids were picked up in their own driveways on Young then buses would turn around at the end of the road and exit on Sunset. A total of four daily buses pick up kids of all ages on Young.

Young Road is in the Town of Lockport, just north of Leete Road. A dead-end street, Young jots out east of Sunset Drive.

Jon May, a Young Road parent of a DeSales student who is bused by the district, told Lockport Board of Education members Wednesday he had safety concerns about the busing change.

“This is not about extra walking distance to a bus stop. This is about an unsafe location for that bus stop,” May said. “We are not asking for special treatment. We are asking for safe treatment — the same treatment we have gratefully received for over 15 years.”

Parents’ concerns center around the fact that Sunset Drive’s speed limit is 50 mph and there aren’t any sidewalks or shoulders. Heidi Hildreth, a Young Road parent and Lockport teacher, said 47 accidents have taken place on Sunset over the past year, including one fatal.

May said according to the state education department, students must be 15 feet from the bus. Without a shoulder or sidewalk on Young, kids would have to wait on private property, the Sunset shoulder or in the road on Young, both unsafe options, May charged.

SED also acknowledges that each district has leeway to create policies based on their different situations, May said.

“In fact, it closes with the suggestion that a district should listen carefully to parents concerns,” he said.

In November, the district received a complaint from a Lockport parent about the inequity of the door-to-door busing situation on Young. After meeting with Ridge Road Express, district officials agreed there was inequity with the busing, leading to the change.

Deborah Coder, the district’s assistant superintendent for finance and management services, said according to the New York State Department of Education requires “district decisions (about transporting students) must be based on criteria established by the school board” and “must be applied to all district students in like circumstances.” For nonpublic school transportation, districts must treat all students in like circumstances equally, according to the state.

Furthermore, the buses would pick kids up with the door facing the east side of Sunset. That means the kids wouldn’t have to cross Sunset Drive, or even walk down it. Any oncoming traffic would be able to see the bus, officials said.

The district also performed a “Child Safety Zone” study, which concluded Young Road was a safe stop. By law, the district can only study the road the students live on and not another street, such as Sunset Drive.

May sent a written appeal to district officials, who denied it. But, officials did apologize and say residents should have been notified with a letter instead of the postcard sent by Ridge Road Express.

School Board President John Linderman said the parents’ concerns was taken under advisement by the board.

“I want them to know the safety of students is of the upmost concern for this district,” he said. “We take this very seriously, ... I’m confident we can find an equitable solution.”

Contact reporter Joe Olenick at 439-9222, ext. 6241 or follow him on Twitter @joeolenick.