Initial busing concerns have been mostly relieved as Central Valley Central School District students begin their third week of the school year in the newly merged district.
District Business Manager Ken Long said of the more than 50 bus stops throughout the district, between five and eight stops have been adjusted since the initial bus stop assignments went out.
“There were no so-called ‘major switches,’ but rather moving stops one block,” Long said in an email. “It was done for safety reasons. For example, one stop was near a statue on Otsego Street in Ilion and the kids were fooling around as kids will do … so we moved that stop a block away.”
The district and the bus garage fielded many calls when the assignments were sent out as well as in the first days of school, he said, adding that they’re working to install a second phone line at the garage so people are more accessible.
“Their concerns were much like ours, and that involved safety of the children,” Long said. “Some buses were overloaded and so we switched some stops and routes and corrected those situations.”
Ilion resident and concerned parent Andrea Voorhees said her children’s stop initially was right next to a gas station.
While it has changed to West and West Clark streets, Voorhees said she still has concerns.
“They went to central busing locations instead of closest corner busing locations to the house,” she said. “To me, I don’t think a 7-year-old should walk two blocks for the bus stop.”
Instead of walking, Voorhees will drive her daughters Lyndsey, 7, and Kylee, 10, to the bus stop.
Voorhees also said she was happy that the changing of some stops helped alleviate an overcrowding problem on the buses.
Long said that all but one or two problems have been corrected, “and those are not safety related, but rather have to do with getting children who attend a non-public school to that school a bit earlier than we currently are.”
With winter coming, however, Ilion Department of Public Works Superintendent Jack Sterling still has concerns with the stops.
Not only are there four times as many stops in the village, he said, but some are located at the bottom of hills.
“If somebody comes down the hill … slides into (the bus), they’ll smash across the intersection,” Sterling said. “They need to be a minimum of 50 feet away from the hills.”
Sterling said ensuring all the sidewalks are maintained also will be a challenge.
“I had a hard time maintaining the 11 (bus) stops that I had, and I’m a man short this year,” he said. “There is no way that I can maintain the current number of bus stops.”
Page 2 of 2 - Sterling is hoping codes will step up when it comes to citing those who don’t shovel within 24 hours of a snowfall.
“It’s not a good situation,” he said. “It’s very bad for the safety of the children.”
Long said the stops “are what they are. We can’t really control the increase in the number because so many more children are riding.”
Long said the district will work with the village to address the problem.
Voorhees said she is glad to see how quickly the district was addressing any problems.
“I think everybody realized that it’s a merge, and it’s new to everybody and it was going to take time,” she said.