Long days on the bus a big con­cern for par­ents

The Intelligencer (Belleville) - - FRONT PAGE - BRUCE BELL bbell@postmedia.com

PIC­TON — Leav­ing home in the dark be­fore school and re­turn­ing home in the dark af­ter school con­tin­ues to be one of the big­gest con­cerns with the Hast­ings and Prince Ed­ward Dis­trict School Board’s long-term cap­i­tal and ac­com­mo­da­tion plan for Prince Ed­ward County par­ents.

More than 100 peo­ple were at Prince Ed­ward Col­le­giate and In­sti­tute Thurs­day evening as the board held its sec­ond of two pub­lic meet­ings to gather in­put for the re­view.

Par­ents in Prince Ed­ward County echoed the sen­ti­ments of Belleville par­ents, who the pre­vi­ous evening at Quinte Sec­ondary School told board of­fi­cials there are a va­ri­ety of is­sues sur­round­ing bound­ary changes and send­ing younger stu­dents to schools fur­ther away from home.

Eve­lyn Wil­son, a mem­ber of the PEC ac­com­mo­da­tion re­view com­mit­tee, said lit­tle con­sid­er­a­tion has been given to bus routes for stu­dents from Kente be­ing bussed to Welling­ton.

“Kids from Kente are al­ready get­ting home at 5 p.m., so add the time from Welling­ton and that will be closer to 5:30 and be­cause tworun buses won’t be able to get to Belleville and then back to pick the kids up in time for Welling­ton, they want to start the school day 20 min­utes later — now it’s go­ing to be closer to 6 p.m. when they get home,” she said.

Wil­son said the cost of ex­tra trans­porta­tion re­quired un­der the cur­rent could ex­ceed $1 mil­lion board wide. She said the com­mit­tee learned each new bus run would cost the board $60,000 an­nu­ally and it would re­quire five ex­tra buses to trans­port Kente stu­dents to Welling­ton.

The cur­rent HPEDSB plan would re­sult in the clos­ing of Pinecrest Me­mo­rial El­e­men­tary School, Queen El­iz­a­beth School (Pic­ton), Sophi­as­burg Cen­tral School, C.M.L. Snider School and Kente Pub­lic School.

Stu­dents from those schools would ei­ther be moved to Prince Ed­ward Col­le­giate In­sti­tute or, in the case of C.M.L. Snider and Kente, con­sol­i­dated into a newly built school ei­ther on the C.M.L. Snider prop­erty or in Welling­ton. The only schools not sched­uled for any changes are Mas­sas­saga– Red­nersville and Athol-South Marys­burgh, schools that al­ready un­der­went their own amal­ga­ma­tion years ago.

Wil­son sug­gested with the dwin­dling pop­u­la­tion of Mass–Red, 140 stu­dents in the kinder­garten to Grade 6 school, that fa­cil­ity should be closed with the stu­dents moved to Kente.

The ear­li­est clos­ings would be in Septem­ber of this year.

Dr. Charles Pascal, a psy­chol­ogy pro­fes­sor who served as a spe­cial early ed­u­ca­tion ad­vi­sor to Dal­ton McGuinty in 2007, weighed in and said County schools can’t be com­pared to those in ur­ban cen­tres such as Belleville and Toronto.

“If we were to pick one in­di­ca­tor to see how we are do­ing as a civil so­ci­ety I know what what mine would be,” he said. “It would be how long it take a Grade 3 stu­dent to get to school ev­ery day..”

Gord Han­d­ley, a cus­to­dian with the board for al­most 30 years, said the two-bus sys­tem should be re­turned to a sin­gle bus route with chil­dren from all grades on the same bus.

“I’ve seen this be­fore and it’s sad, but some­thing has to be done,” said Han­d­ley. “I’d like to see some­thing done with the bus routes and if we got ride of the two-bus routes it would be a lot more ef­fi­cient.”

In Novem­ber, board trustees were pre­sented with two op­tions for Prince Ed­ward County schools. In ad­di­tion to the County, the Board is also con­duct­ing re­views in and Cen­tre Hast­ings as well.

A re­port with fi­nal rec­om­men­da­tions is to be pre­sented to the board of trustees on June 19.


A group from the Sophi­as­burgh Cen­tral School dis­trict showed up signs for the sec­ond pub­lic meet­ing for the Hast­ings and Prince Ed­ward Dis­trict Board’s long-term cap­i­tal and ac­com­mo­da­tion plan.

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