SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Recently Scranton School District administrators notified some families that their kids would no longer be able to take the bus when the next school year begins.
The transportation initiative is part of the district’s recovery plan. But Monday night, the board of directors butted heads over whether the plan is fair to students.
Around 300 Scranton students who would normally take the bus to school will have to either walk or find their own ride when the new school year begins. That’s because the district’s recovery plan requires the board to look for savings with transportation.
The Scranton School District is tightening up policy on which students get to take the bus. 3,800 students live in the walking zone which is within 1.5 miles of their school. Board of directors say their data showed 334 of those students still took the bus.
But the recovery plan doesn’t allow for free rides. Instead, the district must reduce the number of vehicle routes to six per vendor to save an estimated $500,000 in 2021. Finding more efficient bus routes should save $450,000 by 2024.
During the work session, administrators said due to the bus policy and the building reconfiguration plan, they will have 334 new walkers.
Director Sean McAndrew brought up issues with safety and fairness. He said elementary school kids should not have to walk more than one mile to school.
“Is there a way we could still work on this to try to provide bussing for everybody?” McAndrew asked.
Dr. Catherine Finan said the roadways can’t handle transporting every child. Bob Schoch said safety was top priority when developing the plan, factoring in crossing guards, sidewalks and traffic on the walking routes.
Ro Hume acknowledged the district is going through a period of difficult change, but sticking to policy ensures students are treated fairly.
“It needs to be sure that we apply all our policies equitably to all our students,” Hume said.
Directors agreed they need to gather more data and come back with an in-depth cost analysis before moving forward.