Holy Spirit students receive no courtesy

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To the editor:

I would like to respond to an article in the Egg Harbor Township Current Newspaper titled, “Low enrollment at Holy Spirit means change to bus routes.”

According to state law, public school districts like Egg Harbor Township are mandated to provide transportation services to nonprofit, nonpublic school students who live within 20 miles of their nonpublic school, not more than 20 miles as reported in the current. As a matter of fact, state law says that transportation shall be provided by the school district to all public and nonpublic school students who reside remote from their assigned school of attendance.  The term remote is defined as 2½ miles from school for High School students and 2 miles for elementary students according to N.J.A.C. 6A:27-1.2

The Egg Harbor Township School District provides mandated transportation to a total of 6,522.3 students. This total includes the 66 students that are attending Holy Spirit High School.  The school district also provides courtesy transportation(non-mandated) transportation to an additional 2,037 students who attend the Egg Harbor Township public schools.

The school district does not receive state aid to offset the cost of courtesy transportation; the cost is paid out of tax dollars. The school district is not required to provide this transportation service, but does so as a courtesy. They provide courtesy busing to all students attending the public school district because the Board of Education has determined that all streets located within that distance are too hazardous for children to walk or be transported by a parent.

When I addressed the Board of Education about the change from neighborhood bus stops to a centralized bus stop, they really showed very little concern. I asked why our children were expected to walk along hazardous roads that do not have sidewalks and where vehicular traffic routinely travels faster than the posted speed limit. Some of these roads include Delaware Avenue, Ocean Heights Avenue and English Creek.

I was told by Superintendant McCartney that our children were not expected to walk; rather we were expected to drive them the 1 to 2½ miles to the central bus stop location.  

Why are these roads too hazardous for the students that attend the public school district to walk or be driven, but are not hazardous for the students of Holy Spirit? The parents of Holy Spirit students that live in Egg Harbor Township are paying the exact same amount in school taxes, yet we receive no courtesy.

Mr. McCartney also felt it necessary to add in one last sarcastic remark; “You chose to remove your child from this school district.”

My children have never attended the Egg Harbor Township Public School District. The only thing I receive from this school district is bus transportation service. Mr. McCartney’s comment just goes to show his lack of concern and his lack of professionalism. It further shows that our children are being discriminated against because they do not attend the public schools.

If you calculate the cost of providing courtesy transportation to the 2,037 students at the rate of $884, which is the dollar figure set by the state for aide in lieu of transportation, you discover that the school district is paying $1,800,708 to provide a courtesy of neighborhood bus stops to all students attending the district’s public schools. Shouldn’t all students from Egg Harbor Township be treated equally regardless of what school they are attending? If this district can afford $1.9 million for courtesy transportation, then it can definitely afford to provide one more bus for the mandated transportation of Holy Spirit students.

I attended kindergarten through 12th grade in the Egg Harbor Township Public School District. This was the first Board of Education meeting I have ever attended. I was very displeased with the lack of concern most of the current board members had about how much money they are spending.  The presentation about building the $800,000 locker room and concession for the football programs should have generated a lot of questions by board members. Yet only one board member had questions, Thor Himley.  

Mr. Himley brought up several good questions such as the school’s utility infrastructure being able to handle the additional facility. But the most important question he asked (for the taxpayers) was for documents showing what the district needs are versus what the coaching staff wanted. Of course, neither the superintendant nor any other members could provide a document showing what the district’s actual need is.  No other members had questions about the cost or possible overrun cost of an $800,000 project. This shows that the incumbent members that are running for re-election are not looking out for our tax dollars. They will not be receiving my vote in the November election.

Bill Hewitt

Egg Harbor Township

 

READ MORE: Low enrollment at Holy Spirit means change to bus routes


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