LOCKPORT – Lockport School Superintendent Michelle T. Bradley said last week that the district will re-examine its policy on bus pickups after parents on a dead-end road complained that their children were no longer being picked up at their homes.
However, no changes are expected in the near term for the eight children on Young Road who are no longer being picked up or dropped off at their driveways.
Bradley said the district told Ridge Road Express to stop those pickups. Parents on the road said the decision was made after a mother on another small Town of Lockport road, Sebastian Drive, complained about the lack of pickups at individual homes on her street.
According to Jonathan May, a father on Young Road, the Sebastian Drive woman followed the bus to see where it went and was unhappy to see it turn into Young Road and stop at individual homes before turning around at the end of the road.
In an account that Bradley confirmed without naming names, May said that woman complained to the district office, and the policy for Young Road was changed.
Bradley said Ridge Road Express, the bus company supplying Lockport school transportation, was directed not to stop at individual homes on Young Road anymore. Instead, children were told to wait at the intersection of Young Road and Sunset Drive.
The latter is a busy two-lane road that leads to the GM Components plant and has heavy traffic at certain hours of the day.
Parents and school officials held a private meeting Monday with Bradley, James K. Hildreth, a parent who is the K-9 sergeant for the Niagara County Sheriff’s Office, and another parent to discuss the issue.
“We did indicate the district isn’t ignoring their concerns,” Bradley said of the meeting. She added, “The district is committed to reviewing its policy.”
“It was a constructive meeting,” Hildreth said.
But May said, “My own opinion is that this meeting was merely lip service to create the illusion that they are actually listening to us.”
An alteration in bus routes saved children on Sebastian Drive, which is about 1.5 miles from Young Road, 15 to 20 minutes per day on the bus, according to Hildreth. But he said one child on Young Road now has 45 minutes more on the bus coming home than before the changes.
With no shoulder or bus shelter on Young Road, parents there complained that their children were being exposed to danger.
Hildreth and another Young Road parent said some parents are now chaperoning the kids at the bus stop to make sure they stay out of traffic, while others are simply driving their children to school.
Hildreth said there are four buses per day picking up Young Road children: for elementary, junior high and two Catholic schools.
May said a car slid off Sunset Drive at Young Road Jan. 25, careening right across the spot where the district wants the children to wait.
“That area of Sunset is always drifted over because of the way the fields are,” Hildreth said.
He had a private meeting last Monday with Bradley, Board of Education President John A. Linderman and other district leaders. That came in the wake of an argument between May and Linderman at the Jan. 22 board meeting.
Hildreth said he offered a single bus stop on Young Road, but in the middle of the block, not at the intersection.
Bradley said, “It’s going to be something that warrants a thorough review.”
She said the district’s policy committee will make recommendations to the School Board, but she couldn’t say when.
Hildreth said, “The process is not a fast process.”