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Financial Considerations Lead to Cuts In Private School Busing, New School Start Times

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Not all private school students will be afforded bus transportation by the school district this year.

Students who attend Immaculate Conception School in Somerville;  Noor-ul-Iman School in Monmouth Junction and Timothy Christian School in Piscataway will not have district-supplied transportation, said district spokeswoman Mary Clark.

Students who attend Bishop Ahr High School will not get busing through the district office, she said, “though the school may have worked out transportation on their own.”

Also, St. Matthias School and St. Joseph’s High School in Metuchen have a decrease in bus coverage this year, by one bus each, Clark said.

The Board of Education at its Aug. 23 meeting approved a $432,000 contract with the Middlesex Regional Educational Services Commission of Piscataway to provide buses for private school students.

Clark said the reason some schools are getting reduced or no bus service is that “no acceptable bids were offered by vendors through the Educational Services Commission for the routes needed.”

“We cannot accept a bid/award a nonpublic bus route if that bid costs more than the total nonpublic student reimbursement, or Aide in Lieu of Transportation, for those students,” Clark said in an email. “These type of routes may involve more stops and greater distances than a typical public school bus route, which makes them less profitable for the bus company. Many companies choose not to bid this type of route.”

Budget considerations also led to the “tiering” of bus routes and staggered school start times, she said,

“In order to finance the bus routes required by the reconfiguration of grade levels, addition of the Claremont Elementary School and resultant new attendance areas, the transportation routes were bid in three tiers,” she said in an email. “This allows the same buses to be used for our secondary and elementary students and saves the district money.”

“By structuring the bid request this way, the school budget could sustain the transportation of our students as well as programs such as instrumental music, before school activities and ‘student college’ at the elementary level,” Clark wrote.

As a result of the tiering, the Franklin High School normal day will run from 7:20 a.m. to 2:21 p.m., and the two Middle School campuses’ normal days will run from 7:20 a.m. to 2:26 p.m.

The normal days for Conerly Road School, Hillcrest School and Franklin Park School will run from 8:50 a.m. to 3:10 p.m.

The normal days for Claremont Elementary School, Elizabeth Avenue School, MacAfee Road School and Pine Grove Manor School will run from 9:30 a.m. to 3:50 p.m.

“Our student families were notified of the change in school hours early last spring when our student assignment letters were sent home and town hall meetings were held,” Clark said. “The Board of Education voted to award the transportation bid in May of 2018 and the bell schedules for the 2018-2019 school year at the June 21, 2018 Board of Education meeting.”

 

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