More transportation trouble for private school students

CBA students from
Sea Bright, Monmouth Beach also without bus

By sherry conohan
Staff Writer

CBA students from
Sea Bright, Monmouth Beach also without bus
By sherry conohan
Staff Writer

A bad bus situation has gotten worse for parents in Monmouth Beach and Sea Bright.

Last week on the eve of school opening at Christian Brothers Academy in Lincroft, they learned that there would be no transportation to get their children to school the next morning.

Parents in Monmouth Beach and Sea Bright already were upset that no transportation was being provided for their children to Red Bank Catholic High School and Holy Cross grade school in Rumson and parents in Oceanport were upset they would have no transportation to CBA.

The Shore Regional Board of Education had advised parents in Oceanport that there would be no bus to Christian Brothers Academy or to St. Leo’s grade school in Middletown’s Lincroft.

Board members agreed to look into alternative busing arrangements for those students after many parents from Monmouth Beach and Oceanport came to their last meeting to protest the lack of transportation.

Those parents had been notified on Aug. 1 that the board, which has an obligation to provide transportation for students from the district who attend private and religious schools, would not be providing buses. Because the district would not be providing transportation, it is required to send the money it receives in state transportation aid, $751 per student, to the families of those students who are not being bused.

At the time of that meeting Monmouth Beach parents were unaware that they did not have a bus to CBA.

Tracey Rossi, of Monmouth Beach, who had been trying for weeks to get the time and place of the bus pickup for her son who’s a freshman at CBA, finally got through to someone in the board of­fice at 4 p.m. on Sept. 3, the day before school opened, and learned there was no bus.

"I said, ‘When were you going to tell me?’ " she related on Monday.

Rossi said Nick Cammarano, the board business administrator, admitted to her he had made a clerical error. She said he told her he didn’t notice the "slash Monmouth Beach, slash Sea Bright" after the "Oceanport" on the no­tice from the Monmouth-Ocean Educa­tional Services Commission, which ac­tually arranges and bids the routes, that there would be no CBA route.

Cammarano acknowledged, when contacted, that the board had made a mistake. He said the board misinter­preted the letter that came back from Monmouth-Ocean Education Services Commission on the CBA run. "This was an error on our part," he said.

"I kept calling and they kept assuring me there would be a bus (to CBA)," Rossi said of her earlier phone calls, al­though she never could get details.

"I said the other people in town don’t know," she reported of her call on the eve of school opening. "Other parents I had spoken to assumed the bus would pick up their children at the same time and place as last year. They (at the Shore Regional board office) had to call all the parents that night."

Cammarano said the board office started making those calls 2:30 p.m., not 4 p.m., the day before CBA opened.

He said the lack of buses resulted from either no bids on the routes or bids that exceeded the $751 per child thresh­old.

Kathleen Doherty, one of the parents from Oceanport, told the board at its meeting that in calling around to seek alternative transportation, she found that Seashore School, Long Branch, had a bus available to carry the children to school. Rossi said she subsequently found out that Seashore would provide a bus for 16 children for $1,000 per child.

Cammarano said John Villapiano, who operates the Seashore School, had an opportunity to bid on the bus routes put out to vendors, but the cost could not exceed $751 per child.

This week, Cammarano said he was asking the Monmouth-Ocean Educa­tional Services Commission to try again to get a route together for CBA to carry students from all three towns — Ocean­port, Monmouth Beach and Sea Bright. He said he hoped the agency would also try again on RBC.

Rossi said she was determined to get to the bottom of problem. She has asked the commission to provide her a copy of all bids received on the routes.

Cammarano said on Sept. 2 that Shore Regional’s role would be limited to mailing out a letter, provided by the parents who appeared before the board, to the parents of all the children who at­tend the Catholic and private schools, asking them if they were interested in lining up a bus together. He said a cover letter from the board would be included.

The board agreed to do the mailing, he explained, because it cannot release the names and addresses of the minor children who might use the bus to the parents who were inquiring about the Seashore bus because that’s confiden­tial.

Cammarano said the parents’ letter had the name and phone number of whom other parents should contact if they were interested in going in on a bus.

After that, he said at the time, the parents were on their own.

Before the turnaround in the board’s position, in which it agreed to try to get the routes rebid, the parents took the board and individual members to task.

Jill Fulton, of Oceanport, whose son is a freshman at CBA, said she voted for three people on the board representing Oceanport, referring to Frank J. Pingi­tore, Paul Rolleri and Ted Szczurek, and asked, What are you doing for us?"

One Monmouth Beach parent simi­larly criticized that town’s lone repre­sentative on the board, Patrick J. Mc­Conville, for not doing something to help.