There’s a lot of fighting – some public and some private – about what happened today, when thousands of schoolchildren were not provided busing and parents were forced to bring their young ones to their schools. Some say that it’s all the LSTA fault’s, while others say that we wouldn’t have busing at all without the LSTA and regardless, the LSTA never provides busing before September 1st.
So, what are the facts? Well, here’s some of them for you to ponder.
Firstly, it’s important to note that some schools had busing today. You know which ones? Those that don’t use the LSTA for their busing needs. Somehow they figured it out; the LSTA didn’t. Why would that be?
You might argue that the LSTA doesn’t provide busing until September 1st, as they announced on Wednesday – after the disaster was well underway. It’s true – the LSTA doesn’t provide busing until September, but why weren’t parents made aware of that? Why didn’t they get a letter in the mail a month ago explaining that there won’t be busing at the beginning of the school year? Even worse, why weren’t the schools themselves told until Tuesday evening that there wouldn’t be busing? The school themselves believed that there would be transportation!
Rather than talking to anyone, the LSTA allowed this epic disaster to play out without informing anyone until the last second. If that doesn’t show a broken administration, I don’t know what does.
On Wednesday, after irate parents had to take days off from work or miss a seder of learning and schools had to cut down class time, the LSTA suddenly popped up, telling TLS that everything is working just fine and that busing doesn’t start until September 1st. Wow, thanks for letting us know!
Go tell the parents whose days were wrecked, go tell the schools who had to shorten their very first day of the school year, that everything is working just as it’s supposed to be. And do it with a straight face.
Even worse, private school parents are on the hook for $260 a year to pay for courtesy busing. Public school children pay $0 a year, because Lakewood Township takes care of the cost for them. Aside from the fact that this discrepancy is unfair to say the least, why is the LSTA running on a schedule that fits the kids getting free busing rather than the kids who are paying for the busing? How does that make any sense?
The busing crisis in Lakewood isn’t new. The LSTA has been a broken mess since its inception. Wednesday was just a massive disaster that they couldn’t ignore, while all the others smaller disaster get swept under the rug.
Take for instance the fact that it is impossible to get through to the LSTA. Try calling, emailing, or smoke-signaling them – nothing will work. Last year, when they created a hotline to report dangerous driving and other incidents (after coming under intense pressure to do it), parents began using it to contact the LSTA for other issues. Why? Because there was no other way to get through to them! So, what did the LSTA do? They put out a notice that anyone who calls the hotline for a non-emergency reason will essentially be hung up on.
So parents are back to square one. Nobody to talk to at the LSTA, no matter how terrible the busing service is, no matter if routes aren’t being picked, no matter if kids’ stops are missed. Nothing will get you through to the LSTA.
What about the bus companies? Well, they’re making millions of dollars. You see, the LSTA contracts them to provide busing and pays them regardless of whether that service is provided or not. Imagine hiring a cleaning lady to come to your house but she doesn’t show up. The next day, she comes knocking at your door demanding payment for the prior day’s services. Will you pay her? Of course not. She didn’t clean your house! But that’s what the LSTA is doing. They’re paying bus companies for services not even being provided. It’s insanity.
Everything is an excuse with the LSTA. But excuses don’t help parents who are already struggling when they’re told at the last second that their kid doesn’t have busing. Excuses don’t help the roshei mosdos who had to suddenly scramble to start school – the first day of school! – late and end early. Excuses don’t help the parents who had to drive their children to school at 10 and pick them up at 12. Excuses don’t help anyone except the LSTA. And parents have had enough of the excuses.
The way to fix this is by giving schools funds directly to contract their own busing services. If a bus company cannot fulfill their contracts, they won’t get paid. If services aren’t provided, they’ll have to answer to schools and parents directly. There is no need or want anymore for the LSTA – the funds are there and should be given to the schools. That is the only way to fix this despicable, festering mess.
Angry Lakewood Parent