AUBURN, Mass. – A school bus that transports Auburn students to two of the district’s elementary schools has so far arrived late each morning of the new school year, and parents are hoping another school bus can fix this problem.
Parent Beth Anish told the Auburn School Committee on Wednesday that students are arriving about 15 minutes late to Pakachoag Elementary School after sitting on Bus 6 for an hour.
“We appreciate the school district making last minute changes for the bus route, but the bus is still getting to Pakachoag late. It just seems to us parents that the real solution is a new bus for this side of town,” Anish said. “I’ve been told that there is not money in this year’s budget for a new bus, I understand that, but I’m hoping there could be some creative thinking around that to get our kids to school on time.”
Bus 6 has 68 students from both Pakachoag and Mary D. Stone Elementary 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, Kennedy said.
Superintendent of Schools Maryellen Brunelle said this situation is “a concern and it’s unacceptable.” She said the school district will look at whether or not the student ridership has increased to the level that another bus needs to be considered.
“We don’t have that data at this point, so I think that any decision we make should be based on data that we have,” Brunelle said. “We are in the process of getting that collected. Our goal is to get the kids to school on time and get them there safely, and we are working diligently toward that.”
School Committee Chairperson Jeffrey Lourie said he would like to see Brunelle’s data before adding a bus to the school system.
“If we’re going to add a bus, which means we would need to open up the budget and take from something to make this happen, we need to have all the data in place to make sure we are making the right decision,” Lourie said. “We’re four days in to the school year, and there are expected glitches. So I’d like to wait until we have more information before we make a decision, hopefully within the next week we can work this out.”