Busing issues irk Penn Hills parents
Ellen Lydic is ready to submit a mileage reimbursement slip to the Penn Hills School District for driving her son to school.
She was one of several parents at Monday's school board meeting who expressed frustration about the state of school transportation, which the district outsourced to First Student Inc. beginning in the 2011-12 school year.
On three occasions, Lydic said, she drove her son to school because the bus never showed up.
“My son waits at the stop for half an hour before coming home, and he has no bus,” she said.
Parents lodged similar complaints in the initial months after the Penn Hills School Board terminated its contract with Amalgamated Transit Union No. 1552 in favor of First Student. They said buses were up to 45 minutes late and didn't pick up students after school.
Complaints still come. First Student Area General Manager Phil Eades acknowledged parents' frustration.
“We're well aware that we've caused some aggravation on some of the routes,” he said. “We started the year with a full complement of drivers, but we've struggled with attrition, we've run into recruiting by other districts, and we've also had to turn away some drivers who do not meet our standards.
“I'm confident that you're going to see the consistency and reliability you expect.”
Former school board member Erin Vecchio said drivers aren't to blame for the scheduling problems. “You have to blame First Student,” she said.
First Student driver Beth DePalma said the school district distributed unrealistic routes.
“According to my route schedule, I have to get from Jefferson (Road) and Key (Drive) to Mt. Carmel (Road) in one minute — that's not possible,” DePalma said of the roughly four-mile distance.
She said one reason drivers run behind schedule is that district pickup rosters routinely include children who do not attend the schools. Penn Hills has nearly 4,000 students.
Board member Jennifer Burgess-Johnson said she's not happy about the situation.
“This is not $5.1 million worth of our tax dollars,” she said of the First Student contract. “We are paying you for a service and we expect to receive that service.”
Patrick Varine is an editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7845 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Watershed group coordinating efforts to meet Saw Mill Run deadline
- Borough takes the reins of Dormont Day
- Bellevue to repair library, add play equipment to park
- Flag-collection effort gains steam around Pittsburgh area
- Young achiever: Amelia Porter Bacon
- Groveton VFD receives outpouring of support after station fire
- Upper St. Clair baseball field to be repaired after mine subsidence
- Waterways make Western Pa. perfect place for stand-up paddleboarding
- Upper St. Clair School Board passes $72.52 million budget, raises taxes
- Old Economy in Ambridge reschedules its American Celebration event for Aug. 8