There's no excuse for lack of bus records

Posted: Wednesday, April 08, 2009

I am writing in response to the article "School district fails to keep busing records," published in the Empire on April 5.

In the article, Kristen Bartlett was quoted as saying, "There really weren't complaints to be including in the reports. The company and district agreed the best and most efficient way was to do these verbally and respond to individual complaints immediately.

"Out of more than 1,300 daily school bus riders on 36 routes, Molli Mattice's case has been the only incident of note this school year, and that overall, the district is satisfied with First Student."

If the Juneau School District had kept written records, Bartlett would have been aware of all the times I have called the bus company to complain about my child not being picked up or the bus failing to drop off. There have been numerous times when I was standing at the end of my driveway waving for the bus to stop but it continued to pass, neglecting to drop my child off. On several other occasions, I placed complaints because my third-grader was dropped off several stops away and had to walk on a busy street alone. This is my child's first year riding the school bus, and it has not been a pleasant experience.

I am also concerned with the proposed bus schedule for next school year. Kevin Hanson spoke at Auke Bay's School Site Council meeting and said the Juneau School District is looking at changing school start times next year. If this were to occur, the proposed busing would include both elementary and middle school students riding together. My child's bus in particular would require a pick up at our house and drive all the way to Dzantik'i Heeni Middle School in Lemon Creek to drop off the middle school students before heading back to Auke Bay to drop off the elementary school students. Such a schedule could add an additional 30 or more minutes to the children's bus route.

It is my hope that First Student will begin keeping written logs of complaints and share these with the school district. This would allow the district to effectively evaluate the bus service being provided to schoolchildren. If the current bus routes change for the next school year, I'd appreciate it if the school district considered other options. Dropping off elementary students at their school early rather than creating long bus routes might be one option to consider.

Tara Kulbeth

Parent of an Auke Bay Elementary School student


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