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Norwin to still bus to day care centers next school year

| Wednesday, July 2, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

Norwin officials will hold off on implementing a plan to stop transporting students to and from child-care centers that are outside the attendance boundaries of the child's assigned elementary school.

District officials had announced that the change would begin with the upcoming school year. But parents who attended recent school board meetings complained that they were caught off guard and would have difficulty changing child-care providers or making other arrangements for their children's care before and after school.

“After a lot of discussion, we felt that in order to give individuals and day cares the opportunity to acclimate themselves to the changes, we will maintain the status quo,” said John Wilson, the district's business manager. “However, starting with the 2015-16 school year, we will put in the changes that were discussed. Hopefully, that will give everyone enough time to make adjustments.”

This past school year, the district transported 52 students to nine child-care centers located outside the attendance boundaries of their elementary school, according to Rod Stewart, the district's director of transportation.

The district is required to bus children only between their homes and schools. However, Stewart said the district transports students to and from child-care centers because “we feel it's the right thing do.” Still, he estimates that adding additional vehicles to continue to bus students outside their school's attendance area could “eventually cost us $200,000 a year.”

School board member Barbara Viola asked what the district will do to better inform parents about the change.

“What guarantee do we have that this information will get out to the parents?” Viola asked at the June board meeting. ““We did the same thing last year. We said we would bus for a year and notified the day-care centers, but they never passed that information to the parents. Will this just be a repeat that keeps pushing it down the road?”

Stewart said a plan will be developed to better notify residents of the change.

“We'll again notify the day care centers, but we'll send the letters by certified mail this time,” Stewart said. “We'll also do a blitz to let parents know.”

Notification to families likely will come in the form of a posting on the district's website, e-mail, letters sent home with children and details included in the information packet distributed during kindergarten registration.

“It's good that we'll continue as it is next year so these people have some peace of mind,” said Robert Perkins, school board president.

The district has earmarked $3.5 million in next year's budget to cover transportation to and from school, as well as to sporting events and extracurricular activities, Stewart said.

Tony LaRussa is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-871-2360, or at tlarussa@tribweb.com.

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