Children’s safety must be top priority

Ramon Recalde, Millstone
   A loud cry of warning to all residents, parents, governing bodies, boards of education and administrators of the school districts of Allentown, Upper Freehold and Millstone:
   To date, this is by far the most crucial, serious and desperate letter to the editor I have submitted. I feel obligated to preach and remind all of our board of education representatives that we have entrusted you with the lives and the education of our children; you have accepted that responsibility.
   Beginning at 6 a.m. when kids start their school days by getting on their school buses, all the way to the end of the school day when the school districts return our children safely to our homes, the districts are responsible for the safety and educational well being of all our kids. A big responsibility that comes with a never-ending increasing price tag. But of all costs that our boards of education must juggle, no cost is more imperative to be covered and protected than the one pertaining to the safety of our children. Period. End of discussion.
   But unfortunately, our boards of education representing Allentown, Upper Freehold and Millstone have actually come up with break-even dollar amounts to justify and rationalize the cold savings of dollars and cents at the trade-off of jeopardizing the safety and lives of our children. The privatization (outsourcing) of the school transportation of our children should not take second seat against making cuts in other areas such as music programs, curriculum, sports, bands, class size or salaries. For those who do not know of my past involvement, few can match my fervor in wanting to keep all of these options and programs fully funded; but when push comes to shove, no one should be leveraging with the safety of my children, our children! I am not implying that accidents are imminent, but we must eliminate as many risks and exposures as we can. If we do not, then it does becomes a question of when.
   I am here stating and reminding everyone that it is the obligation of all board of education members to minimize and lessen the possibility of exposure to dangers as much as they can. By privatizing, are they minimizing the chances of something bad happening? How are they going to educate a child who does not make it to school?
   Yada, Yada, Yada! Through board presidents, superintendents and business administrators we get the pontificated rationalization that they really care and have the best interest of our children at hand and heart. I say: prove it!
   Common sense: Does anyone sell off their car to “save” money to then turn around and hire a taxi as means of daily transportation to work, school, etc.? By selling off the districts’ transportation vehicles and then hiring private for-profit bus companies with spotty and failed safety inspection records, the safety of our children is being moved to the back burner! We are shooting our districts on the foot!
   Next year, if something goes bad or the savings do not pan out to be as promised, it will be impossible to bring transportation back into the district because there will be no buses to be used; unless there is a major influx of capital investment to replace the units being sold within the next year! Care to guess where that money would come from?
   It is urgent for all parents and residents to get involved and demand for safety to take priority over the unfortunate peril of reducing other district educational costs. Please do not hesitate to question the safety inspection records of all private bidding bus companies versus our own districts transportation units. You will be repulsively surprised of what you see, then the right decision will be a no-brainer.
   Shoulda! Coulda! Woulda! I am the last one who wants to say down the road, in the future: I told you so! Hey taxi, fast, take us to the hospital!
Ramon Recalde
Millstone 