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Is Your Child’s Bus Stop Safe? 

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Parents questioned whether newly implemented bus routes, this year determined by new routing software, are safe for their children during the Northport-East Northport Board of Education meeting Sept. 10.

According to Superintendent Marylou McDermott, part of last year’s budget included plans to consolidate bus routes and reduce transportation costs. To do this, this district’s transportation department used a routing software system to pinpoint efficient bus stop locations.

Before the school year started, McDermott said the district formed a five-person transportation committee comprised of teachers, parents and administrators who will respond to complaints over unsafe bus stops.

However, the new stops had parents like Michelle DeChiaro, who spoke at the Sept. 10 board meeting, extremely concerned.

DeChiaro said that last year, her children were picked up and dropped off after school right in front of her house on Bread and Cheese Hollow Road. Now, DeChiaro said her children must walk along a traffic-heavy road with many blind spots, to their new bus stop at the intersection of Cumberland and Bread and Cheese Hollow Roads.

Now, DeChiaro said, she is forced to drive her children to the bus stop.

“If I’m going to drive them to the bus stop I might as well drive them to school. They will be hit by a car either walking to the bus stop or waiting for me to pick them up… How this was determined to be a safe spot, I have no idea,” DeChairo said.

Coral and Craig Freas, parents of a Norwood Avenue student who spoke at the Aug. 26 board meeting, also requested that their child’s bus stop revert to the Fort Salonga Road stop, used in past years and is right in front of their home. The parents said that the new stop, at the corner of Norwood Avenue and Fort Salonga Road, is unsafe due to traffic patterns.

The superintendent said she is confident the software and new stops, overall, are safe; but the district will continue to respond to parent complaints by physically assessing new bus stops and implementing change in those cases “immediately.”

“It’s like a GPS system that will sometimes tell you to make the wrong turns,” McDermott said of the routing software. “We trust the software but we’re verifying the safety of the children.”

The committee will continue to make on-site determinations throughout the start of the school year.

The district’s transportation budget for this year declined by $56,062, approximately 3.5 percent from last year. McDermott could not cite how many buses were cut this year; and Transportation Supervisor Trish McGrane was out sick and could not comment.

Parents with bus safety concerns can reach the district’s transportation office at 631-262-6865.

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