SCOTCH PLAINS/FANWOOD, NJ - A campaign led by parents upset by the school district’s recently adopted subscription busing plan brought WNBC-TV news to Scotch Plains today.
Parents gathered at the corner of Roberts Lane and Mountain Avenue and met with reporter Stacey Bell to express their opposition to a $625 fee due on May 30, 2014, for school busing. The cost applies to students residing less than two miles from their elementary or middle schools and to students living less than 2 1/2 miles from the Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School. If a family has two or more children riding the same bus, the maximum fee will be $1,250.
At issue is that on streets such as Roberts Lane some families will have to pay for the service while others will not. John and Nancy Lama, residents of Rolling Knolls Road, brought attention to the issue through a petition they started on Change.org in an effort to keep the free bus service that is scheduled to terminate at the end of the school year.
“If they’re already offering the bus service and they have seats available why can’t they make busing available at no cost, especially since they aren’t adding an extra bus stop?” asked John Lama, father of three school-aged children, in a conversation with The Alternative Press.
WNBC reported that District Superintendent Dr. Margaret Hayes said in a statement that “a study conducted in 2012 determined some families were receiving busing service, despite not meeting state guidelines.”
At the regular public meeting on Feb. 27, when the details were introduced, the school board reiterated that the policy is not a new one, but the enforcement of an existing policy. The solution was developed to prevent a tax increase to cover the price of the contract, fuel, driver salaries and insurance, rather than a method to increase revenue for the town.
Applicants for subscription busing who meet all other qualifications and qualify for the federally funded free or reduced meal plan will receive the busing at no cost. For more information about busing, contact Deborah Saridacki at (908) 232-6161 ext. 4013.