JACKSON – The issue of revising the current system for out of district busing has been a subject of discussion for months at Board of Education meetings and even Township Council meetings and at long last, a decision has been made.
During a special Board meeting on June 2, Jay’s Bus Service was awarded bids for transportation routes and will now service the students who attend private schools outside of Jackson.
By state law, school districts must provide financial payment to cover transportation costs in lieu of in district bus services in cases like Jackson’s when using their own fleet is not possible. Parents/guardians then apply for the twice a year payment toward private transportation or must transport their children themselves.
A number of Jackson parents in this situation complained about the time factor involved in being able to provide the proper paperwork to the school district and state and that it did not leave adequate time to arrange for the private transportation of their children.
Many of these parents advocated for a Lakewood-based bus service to take on this duty but it was determined that were this undertaken, the school district would lose some state reimbursement funds so bids went out to other private bus vendors.
Board member Giuseppe Palmeri said it took time to flesh out details of the plan.
“I understand the frustration with not providing a resolution that we initially agreed upon by May 6. The reason for our delay has a multi-layer answer,” Palmeri said. “First we are reviewing the routes to make sure we can accommodate that maximum amount of private school students. We are also reviewing the routes to make sure they are safe for the students as well as the entire community.
“This is not an easy process and we are not leaving anything to chance,” he added.
The parents of students who attend those private schools came before the Board at several earlier meetings to address their safety concerns and their dilemma in finding proper transportation for their children.
New Student ID Cards
Related to the busing issue, School Superintendent Nicole Pormilli spoke about new technology which was recently implemented. New school ID cards will be used for bus transportation and at cafeterias, signing in and out of the nurse’s office and at school libraries.
“These new ID cards will continue to be used for those purposes but also for a new purpose. They will be used to scan students on at buses each day,” she added.
Assistant School Superintendent Dan Baginski said “the new IDs work with our transportation software and buses. We have accomplished so much within the transportation department and this was the next step to come.”
He added, “getting the students to scan in and out of the bus is a huge safety upgrade for us and as we get this working to full capacity which will be in a couple of weeks, we will see a real difference in the safety component and the overall efficiency of the department.”
“As we move forward there will be more to come,” Baginski said, giving kudos to the head of the transportation department and the members of his staff. “They have had a tremendous amount of change in a very short amount of time. It is impressive and it is the way Jackson does things.”
“We are also excited to announce that our pre-school program has been expanding each year for the last five years. Next year we will be serving over 300 pre-school students in our program,” Pormilli added.
She noted, “there are many great happenings occurring across our school district. There have been some dances, junior formals and we are now into the concert season and student recognition events. We are looking forward to having good weather for our graduations.”