Dis­tricts join to pro­vide bus runs

The Ambler Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - By Linda Finarelli

USSer Dublin School Dis­trict ad­min­is­tra­tors are con­fi­dent a tran­sSor­ta­tion agree­ment with SSring­field Town­shiS School Dis­trict for the 2012-13 school year will be suc­cess­ful, un­like a con­sor­tium crafted last school year that fell aSart.

The Slan for the two dis­tricts to join in Sro­vid­ing bus tran­sSor­ta­tion for some Sri­vate school and sSe­cial ed­u­ca­tion students in both dis­tricts was briefly dis­cussed at the USSer Dublin School Board’s work­shoS meet­ing Mon­day night.

Penn­syl­va­nia law re­quires Sublic school dis­tricts to Sro­vide tran­sSor­ta­tion to chil­dren liv­ing in the dis­trict who at­tend ei­ther Sri­vate schools within 10 miles of dis­trict bor­ders or sSe­cial ed­u­ca­tion schools.

Sev­eral board mem­bers brought uS the dis­as­trous re­sults of a con­sor­tium the dis­trict en­tered into last year to Sro­vide bus­ing for Sri­vate school and some sSe­cial ed­u­ca­tion students, but ad­min­is­tra­tors as­sured this year would be dif­fer­ent.

“What’s be­ing done to not have the prob­lems we did last year?” board Pres­i­dent goseph Ch­mielewski asked.

“ft’s with Spring­field, which is the dif­fer­ence,” Busi­ness Ad­min­is­tra­tor Brenda Bray said.

Last year, rp­per aublin joined a trans­porta­tion con­sor­tium with Hat­boroHor­sham, Lower jore­land, North Penn and Wis­sahickon school dis­tricts in an ef­fort to stream­line routes and share buses to reap an even­tual sav­ings. Long rides, buses fail­ing to show at des­ig­nated stops, buses ar­riv­ing late to schools and poor com­mu­ni­ca­tion jet­ti­soned the ef­fort early on.

By mid-Septem­ber, par­ents showed up at a school board meet­ing to com­plain, and by the end of Septem­ber, rp­per aublin dropped out of the con­sor­tium and re­verted back to pro­vid­ing its own bus ser­vice to the in­de­pen­dent schools. Hat­boro-Hor­sham also dropped out by the end of the month.

fn jarch of this year, how­ever, faced with hav­ing to cut ATTM,MMM from the bud­get, Su­per­in­ten­dent jichael Pladus in­tro­duced the idea of form­ing a trans­porta­tion agree­ment with neigh­bor­ing Spring­field as one of sev­eral op­tions to save money. Pladus noted at the time that Spring­field has half the num­ber of students as rp­per aublin, but more buses.

Pladus said jon­day night that the agree­ment mainly in­volved a num­ber of shared rides, par­tic­u­larly to pri­vate schools out­side the dis­trict.

“The con­sol­i­da­tion of some Catholic schools” — St. Alphon­sus, St. Cather­ine of Siena and St. An­thony-St. goseph are com­bined into lur Lady of jercy at the St. Alphon­sus cam­pus this year — “and work­ing with two school dis­tricts is much less than five,” Pladus said, re­fer­ring to ad­van­tages of this year’s agree­ment.

Spring­field’s trans­porta­tion di­rec­tor has spent a lot of time work­ing with rp­per aublin look­ing at bus runs, cre­at­ing the routes and look­ing at time changes at var­i­ous schools “to try to make this as flaw­less as pos­si­ble,” Bray said. “lur big­gest con­cern is that some will be on Spring­field buses and some on rp­per aublin buses … we need to com­mu­ni­cate with par­ents re­gard­ing that.”

oobo calls will be go­ing out to par­ents to have them check the runs on the dis­trict’s web­site to make sure they know that some students will be picked up by Spring­field buses, Pladus said.

Asked how much the dis­trict would save, Pladus said, “ft will be a few months un­til we have an idea of ac­tual sav­ings.”

“We’re al­ready be­gin­ning to re­coup some sav­ings,” Bray said, as the buses are fu­el­ing at the Spring­field dis­trict fa­cil­ity, where the cost is A1 to A1.2M a gal­lon less for gas. “We’re look­ing at some shared runs out­side the dis­trict. We’re en­cour­aged by early re­sults, par­tic­u­larly the fuel sav­ings.”

Some ad­just­ments will likely have to be made once the school year starts, Pladus said, but “we’re very con­fi­dent we won’t have is­sues sim­i­lar to those that came up last year.”

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