Bussing mess “unacceptable”, says PC Education Critic

Tim Halman calls on education department to “get it done”, encourages parents to message DOE

PC Education Critic speaks during a health care rally the party hosted at the Fairbanks Centre in Dartmouth on Sept. 5. He said it was unacceptable the mess that the first day of school was for some in HRM, especially those in the Fall River area. He had many people contact him about the chaos. (Healey photo)

MILLER LAKE WEST: The education critic for the PC Party didn’t mince words about the busing mess that left some children in the Fall River area waiting for a bus that wasn’t coming and others not getting home until almost three hours after dismissal.

Tim Halman answered questions from The Laker about Stock Transportation’s busing problems which led to many furious and rightfully frustrated parents on what was just the first day back to school on Sept. 5.

“This is completely unacceptable,” said Halman, following a health-care rally the party held at the Fairbanks Centre in Dartmouth. “We have a two month gap from June til the end of August. That’s the time to get these systems up and running.

“The Minister of Education needs to be accountable and step up and address these concerns of parents.”

Halman said while the health care crisis is the top priority for the PCs as the new fall session of the Legislature begins on Sept. 6, the education system is a close second.

He said he heard stories of the nightmare of a day that it was for parents across HRM.

“The fact of the matter is you have to get the fundamentals right in an education system, and one of those is getting the students from point A to point B in a timely manner,” he said. “Leading up to the first day of school I had a lot of phone calls and emails from parents not knowing if their child were going to be picked up, and then we find out today (Sept. 5) there were a number of stops where kids weren’t picked up at all.”

Social media lit up with parents posting their frustrations and complaints with busing. In one case, no school bus showed up to pickup about 20 students in the Miller Lake West neighbourhood.

As one parent discovered, the bus driver didn’t have a bus. After a visit to Stock’s offices, and in person assurance there would be a bus for the drop-off after dismissal, there indeed was a bus for dismissal.

Parent Darren Foster made a post on his facebook page stating his frustrations.

“Our neighborhood is not new, the schools are not new and the community has not grown that large over the summer,” said Foster. “Stock has been unreachable by phone, email and Twitter all day leaving the schools to field the parents frustration (which was unfair to them and Stock owes them a written apology).”

Foster feels if the Halifax Regional Centre for Education (HRCE, formerly known as HRSB) can’t get it straightened out with Stock than they need to cancel their contract.

“If it was just our neighborhood I would feel comfortable this would be resolved quickly, but I heard the complaints from parents all over HRM.”

Halman said there’s no excuse for what happened.

“The government needs to get on this immediately and communicate clearly with parents what their plan is to correct it,” he said. “They need to get moving on it.”