Valley Breeze

The Valley Breeze Cumberland Lincoln 09-20-2018

The Valley Breeze Newspapers serving the Northern Rhode Island towns of Cumberland, Lincoln, Woonsocket, Smithfield, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, North Providence, Scituate, Foster, and Glocester

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CUMBERLAND LINCOLN EDITION | VALLEY BREEZE | SEPTEMBER 20-26, 2018 CUMBERLAND 15 School board: Time to move on from Durham busing? CUMBERLAND – School Committee members say they've all but reached their limit when it comes to ongoing issues with Durham School Services delivering students to school "consistently late." Supt. Robert Mitchell last Thursday, Sept. 13, reported on a number of issues that have plagued the busing provider in the opening days of a new school year, problems that have cropped up repeatedly in the years Durham has been transporting stu- dents to Cumberland schools. Regardless of circumstances such as lack of buses or road construction, "the bus company has a responsibility to pick students up at their bus stop on time and get them to school before the school day starts," said Mitchell. School board members agreed that busing is what Durham does, meaning the company should do it well despite the circumstances. The company has had plenty of warning about road construction and other issues, and still hasn't been able to get its routes in order, they said. Paul Neves, of Durham, who was not in attendance at the Sept. 13 meeting, told The Breeze Tuesday he believes Durham will be able to make the changes needed to satisfy officials' concerns. "We've already corrected some of the problems we spoke about," he said. Some of the issues brought up have been exaggerated, he said, and he has digital proof to back him up on that. School board Chairman Raymond Salvatore said it seems like the district is in worse shape than last year to this point in the school year. Mitchell said that's a fair point, but said he thinks there have been fewer concerns. That said, this matter is about getting stu- dents to school on time, he said, and "certainly there are issues that have to be addressed." After hearing a lengthy list of issues about a number of bus routes, school board members tore into Durham, say- ing the district needs to consider mov- ing on to a new bus company. "I think it's highly time to start look- ing at our busing contract and decide whether Durham is the vendor we want to keep here," said committee member Paul DiModica. Those in charge at Durham are nice enough to work with, he said, but every year brings new problems and it's time school officials "look at what we're los- ing in educational" more closely than the cost of the service, said DiModica. "It's time to move on, I think," he said. According to Salvatore, the district is in year three of five of a five-year deal with Durham, meaning there's no pos- sibility of ending the relationship until two years from now. Mitchell said he asked each school principal for information on buses that were consistently late picking up and dropping off students in the morn- ing and afternoon. The most concern revolved around bus 19 to Ashton School, with students repeatedly being dropped off to school late. Durham representatives promised to have those issues resolved by Monday of this week, said Mitchell. Other issues drawing complaints included: • Bus 42 to B.F. Norton School in the afternoon, with students not being picked up until 30 minutes after the school day ended. • Bus 34 to Community School hav- ing an overcrowding issue, with 68 students on a bus with a capacity of 70, creating an uncomfortable situation for students, said Mitchell. • The bus company consistently being late getting Community School students to school. • A mini bus to Cumberland Hill School frequently getting special needs students to school late. • And a bus taking students to the YMCA regularly being late picking up students. Mitchell said Neves told him he is looking to add a bus to resolve some of the issues presented. Neves said Durham representatives this week corrected issues with buses 19 and 42, and said problems with bus 34 will be fixed by early next week. "Durham wants to be in Cumberland, and we believe we've served this town well," he said. School Committee member Mark Fiorillo said last Thursday that he recalled bus 19 presenting a significant issue last year, "so I'm hoping they can actually solve the problem this year in a timely fashion." Board member Bill Dennen said he recalled Neves saying he would pro- vide comprehensive GPS data from buses on pickup and arrival times, information that still wasn't in hand. He said that information would help the committee better understand the scope of the issue. Dennen said one Community School family he spoke with complained about a bus taking 15 minutes to travel the 1.2 miles to their home. "I think we owe it to families like that to figure out what's going on, why is it taking so long," he said. "That just seems excessive to me." By ETHAN SHOREY Valley Breeze Managing Editor Our 71st Year in Business 1947 – 2018 Fall Sale 20% OFF 830 Cumberland Hill Road, Woonsocket, RI 02895 OPEN: Monday-Friday 7:30 a.m.-5 p.m.; Saturday 7:30 a.m.-3 p.m. (401) 769-8128 Book Signing Local RI Author Jeannette Winters September 22 9 a.m.-2 p.m. See our special sales of the day in our Country Gift Shop Autumn Autumn Autumn Breeze

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