Long days on the bus a big concern for parents
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.