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Tomlinson Students Face Daily Hour-Plus Commutes

Parents, residents tell of the redistricting's effects on their children's bus rides to and from school.

The recent decision to who drop off and pick up their children at l elicited a wide range of reactions from Fairfield residents.

Some support the idea; many criticize it and the that began what they're calling a mess. But, the main question people are asking: Why are parents driving their kids to school, adding to bus loop congestion and facing a fine?

The answer, some say, lies in the extended routes buses now take, due to a combination of the redistricting plan, the that followed and – of course – budget cuts.

At the Sept. 13 , Superintendent of Schools David G. Title explained that the public schools are using less buses for more runs.

The number of buses has been reduced from 95 to 91, yet they are running 13 more loops than last year.

“Twenty-three buses run three loops,” Title said. “Last year, five buses ran three loops.”

And now the kids have to pay.

Resident Kate O’Gara has a sixth grader at Tomlinson who, though dismissed at 2:50 p.m., rarely gets home before 4 p.m. Her seventh grader, who attends , usually gets home at 3:30 p.m.

The Tomlinson bus expanded its route to include the newly redistricted and schools to “seemingly” avoid the cost of additional buses, O’Gara explained to Patch in an email.

Though she appreciates the savings as a taxpayer, she said, “I am not a fan of my daughter spending such a significant portion of her day on the bus.”

Resident Christine Sander added, “Not all children can handle hour-long transportation related commutes without severely impacting their overall well-being.”

Sander suggested in an email that rather than putting energy into fining parents, the town should consider hiring a “gifted town planner” who could move forward with new additions to infrastructure and the roads to dilute the traffic.

Title said at the Board of Education meeting that officials are “still sorting out the bussing issues.”

Board member Sue Brand suggested education officials look into which buses are emptier to see which areas parents are driving from.

STG September 28, 2011 at 02:51 PM
I agree that we are very blessed to be in such a great school district and there is much we can do for others in need but that is even more reason why we shouldn't waste taxpayers money on extra gas for busing kids around town. Its not pathetic and sad to question questionable decisions - its why we are such a good school district - because the parents get involved and take a stand when they see something that's not working. The school year already started so nothing can be done for this year but next year things can be revisited.
TJC September 29, 2011 at 10:23 AM
Regardless of the Option E and grandfathering decisions (which I agree cannot be changed at this point in the school year) bus routes can, and should, change so that some of the situations above will be improved. Ticketing parents for dropping off/picking up their kids is not addressing the problem. Fix the root cause (the poor busing routes) and the need for parents to drop their kids off will diminish.
Brian September 29, 2011 at 11:00 AM
After reading the comments by residents, a reader can see two perspectives on "the issue". Probably some parents who have heard complaints from their kids about the bullying taking place on the bus ride. Yup, it does happen and what better environment than the morning or afternoon spent with "friends" an hour or so before and after school? Kids can adapt but nobody but the bullies like a rowdy bus.
Sara September 30, 2011 at 12:47 AM
As opposed to the clueless wonders at the far left of the table. All this negativity and you wonder why no one wants to run for the BOE.
Sydney September 30, 2011 at 04:43 AM
Oh Spender aka Sue Brand, why do you keeping going after your fellow BOE members that were going to remove you as Chairman of the BOE? You are now also going against new candidates that you did not hand select - naughty girl! Put your ego aside and you will agree that you were not meant to lead. I know and our whole party knows. Don't bring us down over your childish ego!

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