Parents’ Concerns Raised by Keeping Buses Out of Cul-de-sacs

This year, the Londonderry School District is not sending buses into cul-de-sacs, requiring children to meet the bus on the corner.
School District Business Administrator Peter Curro updated the School Board about the bus situation on Tuesday, Oct. 22.

In addition to the cul-de-sac change, Curro said one bus was eliminated this year.
He said that about the third week of school, the volume of requests to move bus stops goes down, and then comes back as the days get shorter and it is darker in the morning. “The last try is when snow banks start to get to a point where they start creeping into the road,” Curro said.
He said he met with Public Works Director Janusz Czyzowski, who had heard from a couple of parents regarding snow banks, “especially the ones where the cul-de-sac meets the main road.” He said Czyzowski told him crews would pay attention to pushing snow off the road at cul-de-sac corners so the children would not be standing too close to the road.
“They made it clear, though, that it is a little difficult to ‘wing back’ a snow bank along the road unless I personally wanted to vouch for new mail boxes, so they have their problems with the snow, but they will do the best they can,” Curro said.
School Board Chairman Nancy Hendricks asked Curro if he had looked at the bus stops and if he were comfortable with them.
He said most of the parent concerns centered on first, second and third graders walking to the end of a cul-de-sac and standing at the intersection.
Curro said if a first grader would be alone walking down a cul-de-sac to the intersection, “we went in to get them.
“I make the deal with the parents that I’ll come in this year, the student will have a year under the belt and will understand where they have to walk to next year, and then next year as a second grader they can walk to the bus stop,” Curro said.
As budget season approaches, Curro plans to request an additional bus.
“One certainly is anticipated to handle the growth in the northeast quadrant – Auburn Road, Old Derry Road – due to the construction that is going on up there, and probably half a bus for the kindergarten for the same area,” Curro said.
Board member John Robinson asked if the new bus would impact the cul-de-sac situation.
Curro said it would not. “I mean, how many buses can I put in?” he asked. “I’m debating about another bus and the flexibility, which is important to us. If I had to consider the cul-de-sacs, it would be for first graders.”
“ I wonder if we should look at things like numbers of students and families impacted by this,” Robinson said.
Robinson said that when he was young, there were always parents at bus stops, and he wondered if the parents on a particular street could take turns standing at the bus stop with the kids.
Curro said 90 to 95 percent of the bus stops have at least one or more parents at the bus stop where elementary school kids are waiting for the bus. When buses went into a cul-de-sac in the past, parents could watch from a window as their child got onto the bus.
Superintendent of Schools Nathan Greenberg said that among the issues that were being looked at was “length of time on the bus.
“You may have less kids on the bus than capacity but you don’t want a bus route for 60 minutes, and that may be one of the issues we’re going to face at the north end of town,” Greenberg said.
Curro noted that each bus has three runs – high school, middle school and elementary. He also noted that in bad weather, especially in winter, the buses may not finish until after 4 p.m.
School Board member John Laferriere asked Curro what number of students calls for an additional bus.
“The projection that we gave to the board a little while ago was that the number of housing being built in the northeast quadrant, when Nate (Greenberg) and I took a drive up there two or three weeks ago, they were building houses like crazy. So it’s the number of students, but also that northeast quadrant going through exit 5 is the bottleneck of all bottlenecks, that’s where the p.m. kindergarten bus will probably go and it probably won’t be the number of students, it will be getting them home at a decent hour,” Curro said.
Robinson asked if there could be kindergarten classes at North School and Greenberg said that couldn’t happen because there was no space. He said he expects the majority of enrollment growth would be at the elementary school level.
Curro said another bus would cost from $55,000 to $60,000.

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