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Catholic School Parents Demand Busing Transfer Fix

About a dozen parents of Our Lady of Mercy Catholic School students requested that the Hatboro-Horsham School District ensure faster routes home for their kids.

Calling lengthy bus rides and transfers to “unacceptable,” parents of parochial students asked the Hatboro-Horsham School Board Tuesday to spend an extra $200,000 to get their kids home quicker. 

One mom, whose sons attend Our Lady of Mercy Catholic School, said her second-grader has been transferring and enduring lengthy bus rides since kindergarten. Now she worries that her younger child, who is also attending the kindergarten through eighth-grade school in Maple Glen, will get home at 4:20 p.m. too.

“It’s not just the transfer,” she said. “It’s a workday for these kids and they’re 8 and 6.”

She was not alone. Parent after parent shared similar frustration at their kids’ late return home from school. Our Lady of Mercy students started their first day of school on Wednesday.

In all, 214 Hatboro and Horsham residents attend the Catholic school, according to Bob Reichert, the district’s director of business affairs. Of those, between 110 and 113 are impacted by the transfer process, which involves buses picking up Our Lady of Mercy students and taking them to Simmons Elementary School for a transfer before transporting them home. The goal, Reichert said, is to have the students’ commutes take 50 minutes or less.

“We are going to study every aspect of it,” Reichert said. “We’re all very sympathetic to the situation. We’re going to put every effort into making this work well and be safe for your kids.”

after a transportation in busing costs for non-public students caused longer-than-expected commutes and delays.

For this year’s transportation dilemma, Reichert said the optimal solution is for Our Lady of Mercy to return to an earlier dismissal time as had been the case prior to the . To transport all students without a transfer, Reichert said bus drivers would need to have students on the bus and be prepared to leave Our Lady of Mercy by 2:45 p.m. 

Parents told the board Tuesday that school officials have not responded to requests to allow Hatboro and Horsham students to depart first.

Reichert said the district’s three buses and van offer a “dedicated and direct route home” for about half of the Our Lady of Mercy students, while the other two buses transfer remaining students. Based on the existing dismissal time, he said the district would need to spend $200,000 and contract for four additional buses to ensure those students are given a transfer-free ride home.

Some parents said that is a small price to pay.

“This is completely unacceptable,” said the father of a 9-year-old who has returned home from school at 3:55 p.m. “You’re taking north of $1 million of our money.”

School board president Barbara LaSorsa reminded parents that Tuesday marked the district's first day of school and asked them to be patient. 

“Just give us a chance,” she pleaded.

Superintendent Curtis Griffin said if the commute times do not improve the district would look at solution B or C, which could mean reallocating funds to cover the cost of additional buses.

“We’ll come back with a recommendation to the board,” Griffin said.

The earliest the board could approve a reallocation of dollars is at its next meeting on Sept. 18.

St September 05, 2012 at 02:32 PM
Pay for your own transportation to your private school.
qdogPa September 05, 2012 at 02:48 PM
Steven, We are paying for our own transportation via our school taxes..and while i can't speak for any parochial/private school family, i would be delighted to keep my 11k school taxes and find my own transportation
St September 05, 2012 at 03:03 PM
I pay for school taxes and have no children, where is my refund?
bill September 05, 2012 at 03:07 PM
I am sorry you have no children. But you said this "Pay for your own transportation to your private school." stay on topic,
St September 05, 2012 at 03:18 PM
qdogPa was saying he would be delighted to keep his school taxes. I was replying to that comment.
Maggie September 05, 2012 at 03:28 PM
Before we would spend any money getting private kids home earlier we need to fix our own schedules. At the elementary level the poor kids arrive early and the same kids do not get home until after 4:00 when the school dissmises at 3:15!! These are kindergarteners through 5 grade, that is too long a day.
qdogPa September 05, 2012 at 03:41 PM
Steven, You are again off topic, you said private school parents should pay for their own transportation..and WE DO, via school taxes..now if you suggest we pay more for our transportation, i suggest i get my school tax money back.. Has nothing to do with whether you, or i have school age children...ALL students are entitled to timely transportation,public, private, or parochial
Jason Gutekunst September 05, 2012 at 05:37 PM
I road the bus to private school and it was always an hour ride home and I was only 15 minutes from the school. I never complained.
HHSMom2011 September 05, 2012 at 05:44 PM
I agree. This is not just a problem with parochial buses, like Maggie said, it is happening with the public school too. When we have a problem we turn to our school board for help. Why not go to OLM and tell them to solve the problem. Tuition is paid to them. Let them help defray the costs.
bill September 05, 2012 at 06:13 PM
You didn't complain???? You must have been an amazing child!!!!!! We should make you a poster child and have you do speeches at all the schools to stop kids from complaining.
bill September 05, 2012 at 06:15 PM
Did you go to the school board to ask for help or did you cry and whine on facebook.
qdogPa September 05, 2012 at 06:30 PM
HHSMom2011, HH school district is whom we pay our school taxes to..They need to come up with the solution, as they provide the transportation,not OLM...
william c. hewish III September 05, 2012 at 08:40 PM
i am retired and should not be paying school taxes let alone private or even worse religious school transportation and be taxed for that also is just the most unconstitutional and ludicrous thing i have had to deal with. It has to end.No more tax money for these institution period ever again. and I hope that president Obahma will change this policy in his second term.
qdogPa September 05, 2012 at 08:59 PM
William hewish, we are not asking for anything more then what we are entitled to..A timely ride home from school...I am sorry you feel you shouldn't pay school taxes, but a great school district supports housing prices,but i am certain you KNOW that. ;)
Sharon September 05, 2012 at 11:07 PM
My oldest child went to Twin Spring Farm in Maple Glen for 2 years back in the early 90s because HH only has 1/2 day kindergarden. It was a long bus ride so I choose to take my child to and from TWF every day for two years and I didn't complain. I CHOSE to send my child there. Your children are perfectly welcome to go to HH schools and unfortuantely endure the long bus rides along with the public school children. How about organizing some car pools amongst the parents? I have friends whose kids went to Lasalle and they car-pooled.
Ter September 05, 2012 at 11:53 PM
My child is in first grade at Simmons Elementary, school ends at 315pm, we live less than 5 minutes away from the school and she did not get off the bus till 4pm today, so I feel your pain, seems too long of a day for children this young
Mom2three September 06, 2012 at 03:18 PM
I think more parents need to look into picking their kids up from school or some kind of car pooling if it is really that bad.
Tara September 06, 2012 at 03:50 PM
Everyone should have reasonable bus service. We have paid for a study of our district that has recommended closing 1 school which would not put our other schools over ratio with students. Would save more then $700,000/yr. But a few are fighting this based on location so now yet another study will be paid for to probably be told the same thing. The cost of the 2 studies, the expense saved to close the school would more then purchase enough bus's and pay drivers. Close the school, save the money and spend it where it's needed. That's my opinion not saying anyone has to agree.
Bill T September 06, 2012 at 03:51 PM
Private school parents are saving you a lot of money. The cost of busing is nothing compared to the inflated salaries and waste in most districts. You can pay $200,000 to bus them or $2,354,000 to educate them. You choose. Why must all parents be required to have their children indoctrinated in public school?
Bill T September 06, 2012 at 05:08 PM
By the way, not all private schools have a religious affiliation, in case that is your problem. And all religious schools are not Catholic.
hatboroJoe September 07, 2012 at 12:42 PM
If you send your kids to private school this is something you have to deal with .... So get a car pool and pick the kids up yourself. If you can afford to send them some where other then public school you can afford picking them up. The thing I find funny is that the parents are complaining to the school board ... Would the same parents complain to the church about getting bus service or adjusting the start and end time?
qdogPa September 07, 2012 at 01:39 PM
Hatboro Joe, you DO understand we pay school taxes to HH school district, and state law mandates transportation to ANY school, paid for by the school district..AND we had direct transportation last year, but you likley knew that. ;) why do you find it funny parents of OLM students are complaining to the school board??? Who should they complain to??? Get the facts before you post such drivel
Diane Czerviski September 09, 2012 at 09:00 PM
I have a child in KV. His is dismissed at 3 PM. He arrives home between 4 and 4:10 PM every day. So I am NOT sympathetic to the Catholic school whiners. Boo Hoo about your kids. Mine is in the district and in the same boat. This has been the case for the past 3 years. He has had to learn to take advantage of his bus time to get stuff done. It is a long day. Unlike elementary school kids, his bus picks him up at 7:15 AM. He has a 9 hour day every day. I have talked to the transportation director. The main problem is too many schools with exactly the same dismissal time 3 to 3:15. This includes public, private and Catholic. The 2nd problem is there are too many bus stops. Due to whining parents who don't want their little baby to walk half a block to the bus stop, the bus has to make multiple stops in each neighborhood making the trip LONGER. No one wants to pay any more taxes so your kid can have special treatment. If you don't like the FREE transportation that is available (meaning what you don't have to pay extra for) then pick them up yourself or arrange for a car pool with other parents in your area.
Diane Czerviski September 09, 2012 at 09:05 PM
Right on sister. Be responsible for the choices you make. I have a senior in high school. He chose to go to Tech School this year. The dismissal time of tech is later then HHHS so he misses the bus from home school. To avoid a lengthy bus ride home he is driving himself everyday. I have to pay for that, his gas, insurance, etc. And I am happy to do it because going to Tech is what he wanted.
Local Catholic September 09, 2012 at 09:52 PM
My third grader (OLM) gets on the bus at 7:12. The first two days of school she was not home until nearly 4, so I feel your pain. I did not complain to the school district but am glad that the bus route was adjusted to get her home earlier. Of course, the cost to educate a student in HH school district exceeds our sizeable school tax contribution so by sending our kids to parochial school we have saved the school district a great deal of money over the years.
K. Thom. September 10, 2012 at 02:10 AM
I have my own family to take care of. I would have loved to send them to kindergarten at a private school or christian school as we did for pre school, but we can't afford it. It would be nice if the money we spend for school taxes followed the student. Better yet it would be nice if we didn't have to pay to send other peoples kids to school, then we could afford to send our kids where want to. Long bus rides are one thing, but kids should not have to be bussed from one school to another and then made to switch buses just to get to home. Those parents are paying taxes and deserve the same service the regular public school students receive. Not only are they paying for schools they don't use they're paying for the school they do choose. You raise your family I'll raise mine. You take responsibility for your family and I'll take responsibility for mine. When I have the time and resources I'll happily give it to those that need.
Dolores Forget September 10, 2012 at 05:30 PM
Looks like the change in the school's dismissal time added to the problem. Has there been any response to returning to the earlier dismissal time?
Arkansas Dave March 06, 2013 at 07:04 AM
Didn't the private school you went to teach you to spell rode? You idiot!! Waste of money for that education, Would you like to super size your order?

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