Bat­tle to get to school

Forest­land Wheel­ers still ped­alling Ru­ral fam­i­lies are bat­tling with the town’s cur­rent school bus sys­tem. Pet­rice Tar­rant re­ports.

South Waikato News - - FRONT PAGE -

A Toko­roa farm­ing cou­ple are re­lieved they will not have to sell up and move to town in or­der to keep their daugh­ter in high school.

But no thanks to the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion.

Glen and Ja­nine Lim­mer have been driv­ing 80 kilo­me­tres a day for the past two months to en­sure their child gets an ed­u­ca­tion – as has Lisa Sharp.

Their chil­dren at­tend For­est View High School, lo­cated about 20 km from their homes, yet there is no avail­able bus route.

With calv­ing sea­son loom­ing they were des­per­ate for an­other so­lu­tion.

Re­lief has come to both neigh­bours fol­low­ing news their teenagers were al­lowed to travel on an­other school’s bus.

The Lim­mers re­lo­cated to a new sub­di­vi­sion off Mos­sop Rd two years ago com­pletely un­aware that there was no school bus run for high school stu­dents in that area.

Glen said they dis­cussed the prob­lem late last year with Mul­tiserve, the com­pany con­tracted out to do the bus runs, and were told they only needed three stu­dents to set up a new route.

‘‘We were cer­tainly led to be­lieve that it wouldn’t be an is­sue.’’

As of Thurs­day they were still fork­ing out $100 a week for travel costs.

Mean­while, not too far down the road, a fam­ily was been granted a travel al­lowance by the Min­istry be­cause their child at­tended Toko­roa High School, Glen said.

The rea­son the Lim­mers were ‘‘in­el­i­gi­ble’’ was be­cause their daugh­ter at­tended For­est View – the sec­ond clos­est school by 2.4 km.

‘‘We don’t care if we have to pay some­thing more to­wards [the ex­tra dis­tance] . . . the schools are not zoned, I just don’t un­der­stand it.’’ But the min­istry would not have it. Act­ing head of ed­u­ca­tion in­fras­truc- ture Jerome Shep­pard said the min­istry fo­cused on those fam­i­lies in the ‘‘great­est need’’.

‘‘These are fam­i­lies for whom the near­est school is quite some dis­tance away.’’

‘‘What we can’t do is pro­vide free buses for ev­ery child in the coun­try to the school of their choice, even when there is a closer school they could go to. The ex­plo­sion in de­mand for school trans­port would cre­ate a sub­stan­tial bill, leav­ing less money in the ed­u­ca­tion budget for teach­ing and learn­ing.’’

He said the fund­ing goes to fam­i­lies who live more than 4.8 km away from their near­est high school–- ig­nor­ing the fact that the Lim­mers are lo­cated close to 20 from theirs.

But even if they had re­ceived the sub­sidy, it would only have been use­ful un­til calv­ing sea­son kicked in.

Glen said the fam­ily was fac­ing the re­al­ity that come June, they would no longer be able to live and work in that part of town if they wanted their daugh­ter to stay in school.

Thank­fully Am­is­field School has come to the res­cue, al­low­ing both stu­dents to jump on board bus route 2659 which will stop in at Toko­roa High. From there they will catch an­other bus to For­est View.

Ini­tially both fam­i­lies were told by the min­istry that they would only be able to do so if their chil­dren were en­rolled at Toko­roa High School, Sharp said.

‘‘If we were go­ing to change schools were they [the min­istry] go­ing to help pay for our new uni­forms?’’

But a unan­i­mous de­ci­sion by the Am­is­field Board of Trustees has over­ruled this.

The Lim­mers want to warn par­ents con­sid­er­ing mov­ing up to the Mos­sop Rd area that when num­bers in­crease, the min­istry will only con­sider cre­at­ing a new bus run if they are en­rolled with Toko­roa High School - even if par­ents pay for the ex­tra bus ride to For­est View.

Jerome Shep­pard Act­ing head of ed­u­ca­tion

in­fra­struc­ture

Road blocked: Baf­fled par­ents Glen and Ja­nine Lim­mer have fi­nally worked out how they are go­ing to get their daugh­ter to high school when calv­ing sea­son hits.

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