A blog about living in Aberdeen, New Jersey.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Inside the Circle

The Asbury Park Press ran an article on Wednesday about how school districts in our area are slashing free courtesy busing to save money. There aren't any savings to be found in the Matawan-Aberdeen Regional School District; our Board of Education slashed free busing to those inside a particular radius quite some time ago.

It's been such a long time since Trenton decided our pre-school and elementary school children should walk up to two miles to school that no one gives it a second thought. I doubt lots of parents of young children called their legislators and demanded that their kids be forced to walk to school, so this was a budget decision made in a backroom somewhere. Safety may be the district's mantra, but really, how can they tell us to send first graders two miles to school on foot? (How can they operate the schools when the sidewalks are snow covered, forcing the kids into the street? How can they start high school so early when teenagers need more sleep than any other human being? Ah, but I digress.)

Parents who can afford it pay for the busing or, if they can manage it, they drop their kids off themselves or make other arrangements. Who in their right minds lets their small children walk very far unattended these days?

It's the law, though, so your legislature obviously has thought it through. Title 6A, Chapter 27, Sub-Chapter 1 of the New Jersey Administrative Code (NJAC 6A:27-1) explains how to determine who receives free busing and who must pay for the privilege if, as is more and more the case, their school district won't pick up the tab for courtesy busing. Below are excerpts from the general provisions.

Transportation shall be provided to public school students who reside remote from their assigned school of attendance. . . . The words "remote from the school of attendance" shall mean beyond two and one-half miles for high school students (grades nine through 12) and beyond two miles for elementary school students (grades preschool through eight). . . . District boards of education may provide for the transportation of students who reside less than remote from their school in accordance with their local policies and at their own expense.

1 comment:

  1. Pat, no driver wants to be the one to crush a school child while driving under hazardous conditions either.

    During some of the worst winter street conditions last year, I was a wreck, watching children being driven into the slippery streets by covered sidewalks, shrubs, or lack of walking space. The bridge on Matawan Avenue going over the Garden State Parkway is downright scary. The walkway is narrow and sloped toward the street, making it nearly impossible to remain out of the roadway when conditions are icy.

    Parents with the luxury of driving their children to school are well aware of the dangers. I suspect parents lacking money or the privilege of claiming their own personal time to chauffeur kids in the morning are as well.

    While we often like to sit around and talk about the "good old days" when things were tough, few of us actually desire that more primitive state of affairs for our children.