The other night I sat in the BOE meeting at Daly for the sole purpose of discussing what I consider two important bus issues. I have not sat in a BOE meeting in quite a while and was disappointed to see our school board president trading insults and innuendoes with other board members. It is really not a place fit for students to look up to. I think anyone who voted in the last few elections should sit through one or two of these meetings to realize what goes on and how poorly our school board president runs these meetings.
The reason for sitting in the meeting was to take part in the audience comments at the end. You are technically given two minutes to speak. Most people spoke over the two minutes. It seems if you are "in" with our school board president you can have just about all the time you need to speak without interruption. If you are not part of his limited fan club, you speak either until you challenge him or he is tired of your subject.
What I was recommending was that the playground in front of Weber not be used for construction worker parking. In Flower Hill when St. Francis garage was being built, Christopher Morley Park was used and workers were shuttled to their cars. As space for site and construction equipment will limit the badly needed recess, I hope the board will consider using this or Bar Beach for parking for both teachers and construction. Doing a couple of runs on school buses for the year would be a minor inconvenience to having the students not be able to have ample space for recess and outdoor activities. After all, schools are for students first.
The next issue I brought up was the waste of fuel, pollution, traffic and multiple buses to my neighborhood. Each day the 65-seat Schreiber bus picks up about 12 students at 7:03 a.m. to make the 1.25 miles for the 8 a.m. start. About 20 minutes later the Weber bus comes and picks up 15 to 20 kids to take them to the same area. Many parents take their kids to school because it is ridiculous to leave 7 a.m. for what is a three-minute drive. By the way, it takes another three - five minutes to get down the Campus Street block due to so many cars. I suggest we combine the buses. Even if all the Weber and Schreiber students took the bus on our route, it would still not be full. Added benefits would be having 25 or 30 less cars running to Campus to drop off kids, less tax dollars being wasted on running two empty buses and, of course, kids who may be able to sleep another 30 minutes and function better in school.
One argument against this is a concern about middle school and high school kids on the same bus. So what? In most of the country, especially smaller communities, one bus is run all the time and we are a small community. In the Bronx where I went to school, we as sixth-graders had to get a public bus pass NYC buses with total strangers going to work or shopping. School buses were a luxury that was simply not needed and we all survived. If sixth-graders can take public transportation in the city, surely we can look into eliminating one bus and combine the two schools in a community such as ours.
The last issue I made clear had to do with the health and air quality of our students. Here is where our BOE president told me to stop speaking. I advised him I needed another 30 seconds and he refused. Rather than get into a shouting match, I waited for him to stop complaining and finished between his rude comment towards me. The health issue I was trying to tell the board pertains to our buses and visiting buses during sports. There is an ordinance stating that engines should not run more than a few minutes. In my village it is limited to three minutes before they have to be turned off. If you go to the back of Schreiber when we have a sporting event, you can smell the soot of the diesel engines that sometimes run for an hour. This is not a healthy situation nor is it really needed. This problem has occurred with our own buses as well. Last month I had an appointment at the school when a field trip was being staged. Four buses pulled up to the front with engines running, while students were hanging around the front. Thirty minutes later they were still running. The entire area in front of the school was heavy with diesel smoke from the four buses. I would hope the board can see to it that the law on engines running is policed by simply telling the drivers to shut them down. As for my time being cut off, it took almost as long as our board president to try to get me to shut up as it did for me to finish up with my comments. I can understand Richard trying to shut me down if I was challenging him (he really hates that), being disrespectful to the board or out of order. None of which occurred. If we have to hear him babble through part of the long BOE meeting, the least he can do is listen to the several community comments brought forth to the board. On the board of Flower Hill where I serve, residents are always allowed to speak and may I add without the rudeness he showed nor the stopwatch nor favoritism he shows.