SCOTCH PLAINS/FANWOOD, NJ - At the public board meeting on Thursday, Feb. 27, the Scotch Plains-Fanwood Board of Education presented its subscription busing plan for the district.
Subscription busing will apply to those pupils in elementary and middle school residing less than two miles from the school and to high school students positioned less than 2 1/2 miles from Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School. Traffic volume has been considered in the policy, especially for the pupils who must walk a deemed “unsafe” route to school. This includes, but is not limited to roads, and areas around train tracks.
Currently, the board is running a study on existing bus routes to determine the capacity and effectiveness of existing schedules. The board reiterated that this is not a new policy, but rather the enforcement of an existing policy. Additionally, the solution has been designed to prevent a tax increase to pay for busing. Similarly, neighboring towns in New Jersey implement this protocol.
The annual cost of subscription busing will be determined by Business Administrator/Board Secretary Deborah Saridaki.
“Subscription busing will run an estimated $625-$650 per pupil annually,” Saridaki said.
Annual costs for subscription busing are designed to cover the price of the contract, fuel, driver salaries and insurance. The board added that this is not a method designed to increase revenue for the town.
In a preliminary discussion, it was decided that families with more than two students riding on the same bus will only have to pay the annual costs of two fares.
“We looked at other school districts in the area and found that some don’t offer any discounts, but we thought it was appropriate to offer this option to parents,” Saridaki explained.
Other noteworthy items include:
- Those interested in the subscription busing program must complete the required contract and submit by the due date with full payment
- No additional bus stops will be added
- Seats are not guaranteed for future years; the parent/guardian must apply for subscription busing on an annual basis
- Refunds may only be issued in uncontrolled circumstances
Before the end of the current school year, parent(s) or legal guardian(s) of the impacted students will be notified if subscription busing will be available in their neighborhoods.
According to the policy papers, the Board will notify the New Jersey Department of Education when it elects to provide subscription transportation in accordance with N.J.S.A. 18A:39-1.3. The final vote will be held on March 27 at the regular public board meeting scheduled for 8 PM.
Residents of Scotch Plains and Fanwood have the opportunity to voice their opinions on this matter at the open agenda board meeting on March 20 at 8 PM and at the regular public board meeting held at Evergreen Elementary School, 2280 Evergreen Ave.