AUBURN, Mass. – After an Auburn school bus began the year arriving late to Pakachoag Elementary School, the school district addressed the problem and tardiness is no longer an issue, according to Superintendent of Schools Maryellen Brunelle.
In the first weeks of school, students were arriving about 15 minutes late to Pakachoag. However, Brunelle reported at Wednesday’s School Committee meeting that the school district made a few tweaks and Bus 6 is now arriving at Pakachoag about 10 minutes before the 8:25 a.m. start.
Bus 6 also brings students to Mary D. Stone Elementary School, where the bus now arrives about eight minutes before the 8:30 a.m. start.
“Due to the changes that we made, the students are arriving well in advance of the start time,” Brunelle said. “We’re now dropping students off at Pakachoag before Mary D., so that helped. The other thing is we made sure the Bus 6 driver starts earlier on the high school and middle school routes, so the driver could start earlier on the elementary routes.
Brunelle added that these were “just a couple minor tweaks, which is not unusual for the start of every year.”
Bus 6 has 68 students from both Pakachoag and Mary D. Stone schools. According to parent Nancy Kennedy, there are three students per seat, and the bus heads down Route 20 as the bus travels 50 miles per hour at times. The kids sit through seven traffic lights for up to an hour, Kennedy said.
Kennedy and other parents of Bus 6 wanted the school district to add an extra bus so students would arrive on time, but the school district fixed the problem without spending money on an extra bus.
However, Brunelle said one parent was still concerned about the length of the bus route. The parent told Brunelle that her child is the first one picked up in the morning and the last one dropped off in the afternoon, resulting in an hour trip both ways. The parent wanted the bus route to change, so her child can be on the bus for a shorter time either to or from school.
“I said to her that’s the way it’s always been done, but that doesn’t mean we can’t put it on the table,” Brunelle said. “I make no promises that we can change it. Logistically, it’s very likely that it can’t be changed, but that’s the only remaining request from parents.”