Buses de­liver stu­dents, progress and some are still sup­ported to­day

Southern Riverina news - - NEWS - By Laurie Hen­ery Laurie Hen­ery is Jer­ilderie’s res­i­dent lo­cal his­to­rian.

The last ar­ti­cle pub­lished in the SOUTH­ERN RIVE­RINA NEWS re­lat­ing to the history of the Jer­ilderie Pub­lic School and their prepa­ra­tions to cel­e­brate the school’s 150th an­niver­sary was a synopsis of a speech de­liv­ered by Neil McKin­non as Chair­man of the P&C in 1967.

In that speech Neil made men­tion of the five bus runs that were de­liv­er­ing stu­dents to the lo­cal pri­mary schools in Jer­ilderie, at that time.

This ar­ti­cle elab­o­rates on the fluc­tu­at­ing fortunes those bus runs had on the progress of the schools.

The first school bus to trans­port coun­try chil­dren into the Jer­ilderie pri­mary schools was that which was known as the ‘Willawa’ bus.

At a pub­lic meet­ing held on Fe­bru­ary 27, 1957 — at which 19 par­ents were in at­ten­dance — a com­mit­tee was es­tab­lished un­der the chair­man­ship of Kelvin O’Con­nell to raise funds for the pro­vi­sion of a school bus to ferry pupils from the Boora­ban­illy/ South Coree area to the Jer­ilderie pri­mary schools.

The first bus started op­er­a­tions for the school year start­ing in 1958, and it was driven by a Mr R Fraser.

One year later, in 1959, the Wun­na­murra school bus started. Both the Willawa and Wun­na­murra buses were be­ing sub­sidised by the Jer­ilderie Shire Council.

The ex­pla­na­tion given by the Jer­ilderie Shire Council for get­ting in­volved in the bus runs in their ini­tial years was that by main­tain­ing the num­ber of stu­dent at­ten­dances, the classes and cour­ses of­fered at Jer­ilderie schools would be re­tained. It would lead to main­tain­ing or in­creas­ing teacher num­bers.

This prac­tice con­tin­ued un­til the be­gin­ning of the 1960 school year, when the ed­u­ca­tion depart­ment in­tro­duced universal sub­si­dies for school buses, at the rate of 1/8d per mile.

The success of the Willawa and Wun­na­murra bus com­mit­tees also led to a com­mit­tee be­ing formed in March 1960 to lobby for the in­tro­duc­tion of a Colombo Creek School Bus ser­vice.

Then in March 1963, a com­mit­tee was formed to in­ves­ti­gate es­tab­lish­ing a school bus ser­vice along Wil­son Road.

Originally, five fam­i­lies col­lab­o­rated in pur­chas­ing and op­er­at­ing a mini-bus, which trans­ported chil­dren from north-west of Jer­ilderie into the schools, un­til 1979 when it dis­con­tin­ued due to lack of num­bers.

The Wil­son Road bus was re-ac­ti­vated in 1995 when a group of land­hold­ers in the North Coree area got to­gether to recom­mence the Wil­son Road school bus route.

The re­named North Coree School Bus Com­mit­tee ac­quired the as­sets of the old Wil­son Road School Bus Com­mit­tee, and it ran un­til ceas­ing op­er­a­tions at the end of the 2002 school year.

There is anec­do­tal ev­i­dence that sug­gests a pri­vate ar­range­ment of sorts, be­tween land­hold­ers in the Hart­wood sub-di­vi­sion area off Conargo road, trans­ported some chil­dren to Jer­ilderie pub­lic schools be­tween 1960 and 1964.

Be­fore the start of the 1966 school year how­ever, and in re­sponse to rep­re­sen­ta­tions made by land­hold­ers and par­ents in the Hart­wood area, the Jer­ilderie Shire Council once again got in­volved in the pro­vi­sion of bus ser­vices. It re­solved that for a pe­riod of two years the council would pro­vide a sta­tion wagon to ferry chil­dren to Jer­ilderie pub­lic schools, with a com­mit­tee of par­ents in the Hart­wood area be­ing re­spon­si­ble for meet­ing the run­ning costs of the ser­vice.

As the ag­gre­ga­tion of farms gained im­pe­tus, and chil­dren pro­gressed to sec­ondary and univer­sity ed­u­ca­tion, the bus runs into Jer­ilderie pri­mary schools be­gan to dis­ap­pear.

The first of the bus runs to close was the Hart­wood bus, some­time in the 1990s, fol­lowed by the North Coree bus run at the end of the 2002 year, as men­tioned pre­vi­ously. The re­main­ing users of those two bus runs were, for a time, picked up by the re-routed Willawa bus run, at ‘Kulla­roo’ gate on the Conargo Rd.

The Wun­na­murra bus run ceased op­er­a­tions at the end of the 2004 school year. The only bus runs still trans­port­ing chil­dren to the Jer­ilderie schools are the pri­vately op­er­ated Colombo Creek bus run, and the com­mit­tee-run Willawa bus run.

The on­go­ing ben­e­fit to the schools though, is that the com­mit­tee-run Willawa school bus is pro­vided to the school free of charge for ex­cur­sions and/or re­gional events.

Ad­di­tion­ally, while the Wun­na­murra bus no longer op­er­ates the com­mit­tee is still ac­tive with sub­stan­tial funds ac­cu­mu­lated over the years, at their dis­posal.

Each year the Wun­na­murra Bus Com­mit­tee di­vide the in­ter­est earned on in­vest­ments equally be­tween Jer­ilderie Pub­lic, St Joseph’s, and the Pre School.

The Willawa Bus Com­mit­tee also makes an an­nual con­tri­bu­tion to the three schools, based on an amount per head (cur­rently at $80) for each stu­dent at­tend­ing the re­spec­tive schools.

Jer­ilderie Pub­lic School will be cel­e­brat­ing its 150th an­niver­sary on Sun­day, Septem­ber 22 this year, so keep your cal­en­dar clear for what is shap­ing up to be a huge week­end.

Jer­ilderie Pub­lic School in 1904.

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