By Joseph Borzelliere
In the Buffalo area, we have it made when it comes to the schools our children and grandchildren attend, compared to Southern California. We may complain about school taxes here, but those taxes give us a lot, and make our lives easier.
My wife and I recently came back from a two-week stay in Glendale, Calif., staying with my son and his family. Our main purpose was to help with two grandchildren (ages 3 and 5) while their dad was away for a company function away from home for a week. Also, because their mom had to leave early for work at 7:30 a.m., and was not able to get back from work until 6:30 or 7 p.m.
Upon our arrival on a late Thursday night, I had to quickly learn the various driving routes from my son before he left for his conference on Sunday morning. I only had part of Friday and Saturday. These driving routes were for the grandkids' preschool and grammar schools. Both schools were in opposite directions. To go from one school to the other school, I had to use the dreaded freeway.
Surprisingly for me, I learned that there were no grammar school buses. I learned that in California there is a school bus for only one in eight children. Most grammar schools have no big parking lots for parents. I learned that I had to park along adjacent public streets, and walk my 5-year-old grandchild nearly five minutes to the front school entrance. I had the 5-year-old in school by 8 a.m. He finishes at noon. His parents have to pay a lot of money to keep him in after-school activities until 6 p.m.
I had to leave every morning for one week by 7:40 a.m. with the 5-year-old strapped in the car driving to the grammar school and walking him. Then I drove back to the house to get the 3-year-old, and strap him in the back seat. I drove him to his preschool, driving in a different direction. Pick up on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday was by 5 p.m. for the 5-year-old. Then I drove the freeway to pick up the 3-year-old. On Monday I picked up both boys earlier because I had to get the 5-year-old to basketball at the YMCA by 6 p.m., plus feed him before he went. On Wednesday I had to get the oldest to baseball practice by 5 p.m.
I do not know how busy working Californians do all the transporting themselves without school buses, especially with children in different schools. Then add in the monthly after-school care that costs as much as a leased Mercedes, and daycare being double the price of after-school care.
Glendale is nearly the size of Buffalo, with very expensive suburbs, and even within the city, older homes in the 2,000- to 2,500-square-foot range sell as fixer-uppers for $1 million or more. To say the real estate in Southern California is a seller’s market is an understatement. With so much wealth, why don’t they take steps to have school buses, at least for grammar school children?
However, as a 76-year-old senior citizen, I feel proud that I was able to learn my driving routes for my grandkids, and was able to overcome my anxiety and stress over that responsibility on those super-congested roads.
Joseph Borzelliere of East Amherst is grateful for the school system in Western New York.