SCOTCH PLAINS/FANWOOD, NJ -- Following a letter that went to parents of Terrill Middle School students last week from Scotch Plains-Fanwood school district (SPFK12) informing them that some students would no longer be eligible for busing, Superintendent, Dr. Joan Mast, has asked parents to disregard the previous letter. 

Related: Parents Outraged That Some Terrill Middle School Students Will Lose Busing

The October 18 letter from SPFK12 Business Administrator Debbie Saridaki informed students who live on or near Hetfield Ave. that they would no longer be eligible to receive busing if the newly refurbished back path to Terrill Middle School brought their distance from their homes to the school to less than two miles.

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Dear Parents/Guardians:

Thank you for the concerns that have been raised regarding the change to bus routes T5 and T6.

While the revised distance calculations that determine busing access were already set in motion prior to my becoming the Superintendent of the Scotch Plains-Fanwood School District, and while it follows past practice, I did not anticipate the need to bring it to the Board of Education Community Relations Committee for full discussion.

As a result of safety concerns that parents have brought to out attention, please disregard the previous letter from the Business Office, dated October 14, while we reevaluate. 

To clarify, our district policy for which students receive busing is informed by New Jersey Department of Education guidelines, NJSA, 18A:39-1, which states that all public elementary school students (grades K-8) who live more than two miles from their school are entitled to transportation. Busing was originally provided to the T5 and T6 routes because the back path to Terrill Middle School was a safety concern. The current change to existing busing was based on the repair to the Terrill Middle School path and new calculations were done. Currently, everyone in the District was transportation provided based on the same calculation with the exception of those students that live on the West Bound side of Route 22, which has been deemed a hazardous walking route.

I do know that out communities work best when we have open and respectful communications to make the best decisions for our students. Therefore, a future letter will inform you of recommended district policy moving forward. I thank you for your feedback. Like all of you, the safety of our children is my top priority.

Sincerely,

Joan Mast

"We got the Board of Education to stop and reevaluate," posted Anthony Fiore, a vocal critic of the initial busing decision on Facebook. "I bombarded them with information, emails, pictures, and social media posts." 

Meanwhile, the Board of Education, which usually sees less than a handful of parents at each of its meetings, can expect to see a more crowded room when it holds its next Regular Public Meeting on October 29 at 8:00 p.m.

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