Parents Concerned About Broken Buses And Junk Food

Bus maintenance is an issue parents brought up in Jackson. (Photo by Bob Vosseller)

  JACKSON – Parents brought up some diverse concerns during a recent Board of Education meeting that included a smelly, broken-down bus, and snack food availability.

  During the public comment period of the session parent Nechama Goldstein thanked the Board for improvements to the system of securing bus transportation for students who attend private schools that are located outside of the township but expressed concerns about the status of one of the Jackson buses that transport students.

  As the School District cannot accommodate all students who attend schools outside the township with district buses, some parents must find transportation on their own and are provided a stipend to cover travel costs in lieu of transportation.

  Goldstein said that while her daughter has received transportation, her other children’s transportation had to be arranged and that this year, more lead time made arranging that easier.

Parent Nechama Goldstein speaks to the Jackson Board of Education about her concerns regarding a Jackson bus that has broken down multiple times. (Photo by Bob Vosseller)

  “We are on bus 954, a Jackson school bus, which I feel should be put out of service. It has broken down numerous times. Even after it is repaired it comes back and smells terribly, I don’t know how the bus driver or the children are able to ride on it for over an hour,” she added.

  “Besides the need for it to be replaced it has broken down with the children on the bus. We were not notified. I didn’t know how to get in touch with anyone. The bus broke down five minutes from my house and we were not told and were waiting and waiting. We did not know what was going on,” she noted.

  Goldstein added, “the children had to stay on the bus for a half hour until another bus came to take the children to the rest of the route. I would have gladly driven to the bus stop and picked up my child and this has happened a few times.”

  The parent asked if there was anyway to be notified and she was pleased to hear about a stop alert app that is being tested in the school district and was referenced earlier in the meeting. It is set to be used throughout the school district after its initial testing phase.

  “If we have any issues with transportation, I was wondering who we are supposed to talk to? I have called the number on the paper and either no one responds or I’m told to e-mail and I’m waiting for responses to my e-mail. I just want to know what to do?” Goldstein asked.

  Superintendent Nicole Pormilli said, “yes, you should be calling that number. I’m sorry you haven’t been getting replies. I am surprised it is a Jackson bus and we will look into that and if you are not reaching anybody call our (Business Administrator) Mrs. (Michelle) Richardson and she will follow up with you and we will follow up with you.”

  The Jackson Times was told by the district’s transportation department that the bus is currently out of service and is being serviced by the department’s mechanics. Bus 954 is a 2014 vehicle and has 1,413,367 miles on it.

  According to the School district, the bus was taken out of service on Jan. 12 and prior to that, it was taken out of service for repair on October 27, 2022. Those are the only times it has been out of service recently.

  The repair issue on October 2022 was a coolant leak. The issue on January 12, 2023 was an issue with the DPF, or Diesel Particulate Filter, which is part of the exhaust system. It is being repaired.

Jackson School Board Attorney Marc Zitomer joins Superintendent Nicole Pormilli who is responding to concerns from residents during the latest Board of Education meeting. (Photo by Bob Vosseller)

  The school district currently has 143 school buses in service and School Transportation Director Kristopher Soto said, “residents are always welcome to bring their concerns to our attention so we can address them. We work very hard to keep our buses running well, however, with a fleet our size and traveling the distances that we do within a 100-square-mile township and beyond, sometimes things happen.”

  He added, “when they do, we send out a new bus to retrieve any students who have not yet been taken home, as we did in this case.”

Too Many Snacks

  Resident Chris Polic addressed what he feels is a problem in the elementary schools. “There are cookies, ice cream and other snacks available for purchase and I have an issue with five-, six- and seven-year-olds being able to do this every day of the week.”

  He suggested it be minimized to once or twice a week instead to eliminate the temptation to the students who might make poor choices concerning their diet.

  Superintendent Pormilli said, “in regards to snacks we encourage you to reach out to our food service to express your concerns so they can look into it and I will look into that situation as well.”