Complaints about busing are not unusual among parents of school-age children—and East Penn School District is no exception—especially during the first week of school.
Late buses. Missed buses. Wrong bus stops. Bus stops that are too far away. Buses that fail to stop.
Bus this year, East Penn parents have been buzzing about another, and perhaps more serious, school bus concern: Buses that are too crowded.
Parents are worried about buses in which students are sitting three and four to a seat. There is talk of students riding on the floor on at least one bus.
East Penn Superintendent of Schools Thomas L. Seidenberger says the administration is aware that there are concerns about overcrowded buses and that the district is looking into the situation.
Already, he says, the district has added a second bus run to LCTI to help out with some overcrowding issues there. This, he says, is actually a good thing, because it means more students are signing up for that program.
Director of Operations Lynn Glancy, who heads up transportation for East Penn, has been actively trying to get to the bottom of the overcrowding issue, Seidenberger says, and he says Glancy has told him that the problem may not be overcrowded buses at all.
“We think it may be an issue at the high school with kids not sharing seats and not moving backpacks,” Seidenberger says.
In fact, Seidenberger says he believes that the Emmaus High School buses— or even one high school bus in particular—caused the issue to bubble up.
As a result, Seidenberger questions whether East Penn’s newly implemented “will-call” bus system may be partially to blame for the problem.
Will-call, according to the district website, requires parents of high school students who do not use the buses to let the district know and those students will not be put on a bus. Similarly, seniors who register their car to park in high school parking spots are not scheduled on buses.
In both cases, with three days notice the district will get the students onto a bus should their transportation needs change.
“What I can’t understand,” he says, “is why will-call would work in Parkland (School District) and it wouldn’t work here. Maybe there are parents who forgot what they filled out on the form.
“We tried to be more efficient with our buses. We need to evaluate if that (will call) will work here.
“If we find buses are over-crowded, we will add a bus. Adding another bus is not going to break the budget. The best-laid plans go awry,” he says.
What follows are what some Emmaus and Lower Macungie Patch Facebook users have had to say about school bus crowding issues since the 2013-2014 school year started on Monday. At least one commenter makes direct reference to a Lower Macungie Middle School bus:
Missy Moyer Schneck: My high schooler had no bus home this afternoon, is that normal for a kid that takes afternoon tech? We were not informed at all that he would not have a ride home....thank God he had his cell on him...then this am on the way in to school the chatter on the bus radios apparently had to do with students sitting on the floor of the bus because the busses were that full..he said some seats had 3-4 kids in them..this isn't safe at all
Karen Moog Balsamo: Our bus was very crowded yesterday morning and I know it had more stops after ours...
Sheree Ann Lewis-McBean: We also had crowding issues
Beth Loring: The bus to EHS is extremely crowded, 3 to a seat and that was on a day with no freshman. Is 3 to a seat even safe ?
Ronald William: I remember riding 3 to a seat. That was 15 years ago of course.... to then Eyer Junior High! The ride was an hour. I was first picked up and last dropped every year.
Lauren Michele: Over crowding on bus.. she is last stop in both am and pm. School is out at 235 (LMMS) and she got home at almost 330 yesterday.
Parents: If you have experienced an issue with overcrowded school buses in East Penn this year, tell us in the comments or email Jennifer.email@example.com.