LOCKPORT – The Lockport Board of Education last week hired a consultant to re-examine the district’s bus routes.
Proposed new policies on transportation and on school bus scheduling and routing were presented to the board at Wednesday’s meeting, but were not publicly released.
Superintendent Michelle T. Bradley pledged in January that the district would re-examine its policy on bus pickups after a flap over a decision to stop picking up children at each driveway on Young Road, a dead-end street off Sunset Drive.
Instead, the district directed Ridge Road Express, the bus company, to collect and drop off all the Young Road children near the intersection with Sunset. Parents on the road protested that was unsafe.
The board last week hired Kevin Love, transportation director for the West Seneca district, to go over the Lockport district’s bus route structure. Love is to be paid $50 an hour.
Bradley said she doesn’t expect any changes to be instituted in time for the opening of school in September.
“If we have to make necessary changes midyear, we’ll do it,” she said.
Jonathan May, one of the Young Road parents who at several meeting protested what he considered the board’s nonresponsiveness, was unimpressed with the news of the consulting contract.
“Why will this review not be done by the beginning of the school year? What have they been waiting for? This has been an issue for almost a year already,” May wrote in an email to The Buffalo News.
Bradley said Love does consulting on the side. She said he was chosen in part because West Seneca uses the same transportation planning software as Lockport, a package that not many schools use.
“Part of it to make sure we’re effectively establishing bus routes. We haven’t done it in a while,” Bradley said.
She said a revision is overdue because of the district’s recent consolidation of elementary schools and its shift from two middle schools to one intermediate school and one junior high school.
The Young Road move was made after a parent on another small road, Sebastian Drive, complained to the district about a lack of pickups at individual homes on her street.
According to statements in January by another Young Road parent, Niagara County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. James K. Hildreth, the revised plan shortened the time on the bus for Sebastian Drive children by 15 to 20 minutes a day, while one Young Road child faced a 45-minute longer ride home.
May asked, “How is there no one within our own district capable of reviewing the bus routes? And if there is no one with that qualification, why was our bus route summarily changed by someone unqualified to make that judgment?”