Parent thinks more at play than just a bus stop cancellation

Fletchers Lake mom feels HRSB shutdown of idea without exploring it says a lot

FLETCHERS LAKE: A parent of a student at Holland Road School has had their afternoon bus stop cancelled, meaning their child will have to walk home.

Amanda Castle says when she spoke with STOCK Bus transportation’s Ian Duncan, he gave her an idea that she could pass on to the Halifax Regional School Board (HRSB) to explore. Before she had a chance to make any other move, she said Denise MacLeod-Kelly from the HRSB phoned her, sternly shutting down any possibility of that option without even looking at it.

“That option was simply for me to talk to other parents down the road, to see if we could combine the afternoon stops,” said Castle. “But when STOCK suggested how we could have no more than three stops in 1.6 kilometres, the school board shut it down right away.”

As it stands now, that means Castle’s six-year-old will have to walk home from about a kilometre away. In order to be eligible for transportation on a school bus, students in grades Primary to 6 must live 2.4-kilometre way from the school.

“I understand the stop was a courtesy stop, however it’s been there for years,” she said. “The stop was put in for safety reasons and they’re saying the only way we can get it back in is if legislation is changed.”

That legislation is under the Transportation section of the Government and Council Education Act Regulations, Section C, it says a “school board can determine the transportation of students as necessary.”

“The eight parents in my area on Brook Street believe it is necessary because it is a safety issue,” said Castle.

Castle said she spoke with the local board representative, Bridget Ann Boutilier, who mentioned a meeting coming up in February between STOCK and HRSB.

“If you’re now saying our children have to walk home, put in a crossing guard for goodness sake,” said Castle, getting a little emotional.

When Castle spoke to Duncan at STOCK, he told her if she would take it upon herself to contact parents who had further stops upwards, and if they decided to combine into one, that they (STOCK) could put a bus stop back on Brook Street.

“When I spoke to Denise, she called Ian and then called me back and told me ‘that’s not going to happen’.” She told me after further questioning that they (HRSB) would not be putting a stop on Brook Street,” said Castle. “This was only a possible solution, and only possible if that other parent would agree. My feeling from speaking to them is that there’s a bigger issue here and that’s what I’m trying to point out.”

Castle feels that HRSB does not wish to be associated with STOCK any longer.

In a statement to CBC N.S. on Jan. 22, Stock Transportation said the children at the stop are on what is termed a courtesy bus stop—in other words, students who fall within the walking distance to the nearby Holland Road School, but are still allowed to rid on buses that have empty seats. The morning run has that; however the afternoon does not.

“While we do our very best to accommodate courtesy riders whenever possible, eligible students remain our first priority,” the bus company said in the statement posted on Jan. 22. “The morning route can accommodate courtesy riders at this stop.

“The afternoon route is different than the morning route, and therefore does not allow for students to be dropped at that stop.”

Even with the cancellation of the afternoon run, the bus will still pass the front driveway of Castle’s home.

“The bus is still going to be going by our place,” Castle said.

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Pat has grown up in East Hants, having called Milford, and now Enfield home. He graduated from the journalism program at Holland College in 2001, and has spent time at newspapers in NL and Alberton and Summerside, PEI before becoming a reporter/photographer at The Weekly Press/The Laker in October 2008. He has a rescue kitty named Asha that is much loved—and spoiled. Pat is also our "social engagement guru." Check him out on twitter!