Parent to district: More notice needed for busing changes

By: Stephanie Prokop
   FLORENCE — A parent frustrated with changes in bus service is planning to rally support to get courtesy busing back for children on his street.
   Curtis Aubrey, of Hamilton Avenue, said this week that the school board had not told parents of students attending Roebling Elementary School on Hornberger Avenue in a "reasonable amount of time" that their school bus would be canceled.
   He claimed that the decision was made as early as March, but Superintendent Louis Talarico said Wednesday the final decision was made in August.
   Mr. Aubrey said he estimates the busing cancellation affects approximately 100 students in the area of Hamilton Avenue.
   He said he hopes to inform parents of affected students by e-mail and by handing out fliers to parents of students being picked up after school.
   "Everyone had to scramble to either take their kids to school or to make other arrangements," he said.
   According to state statute, elementary-age children qualify for busing if they live more than two miles from the school. The distance is two and a half miles for high school students.
   Mr. Aubrey said that he was told that his daughter and other residents on their block received "courtesy busing" meaning that they did live over the two-mile marker, but had received it in the past.
   "If they had been providing this in the past, you have a reasonable expectation that that it’s going to be there for your own use," said Mr. Aubrey.
   According to Superintendent Louis Talarico, the decision to end bussing was figured into the reorganization of transportation after the closing of the Marcella L. Duffy School on Second Street and the opening of the Riverfront School on Delaware Avenue.
   "They basically had to redesign the routes from square one," he said.
   Dr. Talarico did note that the school district had worked with the Florence Police Department to add additional crossing guards.
   Dr. Talarico said the decision was voted on in August during the school board meeting, and from there it was the transportation department’s job to disseminate that information to all parties that would have been affected.
   "If anything it was an issue of that there’s a set amount of drivers and there’s a set amount of buses, and that those who live outside of the two-mile distance by state law would have been affected," he said.
   Mr. Aubrey said that he is hoping to find a solution to the problem no later than springtime, and is also planning on attending future school board meetings to raise his concerns.