Parents Voice Concern Over Controversial School Busing Plan In Teaneck

TEANECK, N.J. (CBS 2) — When the new school year begins, Teaneck, New Jersey plans to have fewer bus stops for private school students. The town says consolidating the stops will save the district money, but could it also put children at risk?

Sheera Ashendorf is among those worried that the controversial private school busing plan that has been approved will create overcrowding problems and unsafe conditions.

“I think it will create havoc,” she told CBS 2’s Mark Morgan.

In fact, at one intersection that is particularly of concern to parents, has no sidewalks. As many as 50 children would be waiting at that stop each school morning.

“They want to put 50 children at a bus stop where it is so unsafe, when the snow starts piling, there is no place for the children to get off,” Shana Grunstein said.

Ardie Walser, president of the Teaneck school board, said budget cuts resulted in the consolidation of stops and the elimination of courtesy bus service within 2 miles of public schools for 1st grade through 4th grade. Walser said the board was initially told by police the stops were safe.

“We’re trying to figure out how to work this out so that we can make sure that all our children are safe,” he said.

Now that concerned parents have the board’s attention, both sides can focus on the driving force behind the disagreement — safety. And for Ashendorf, there is a simple solution.

“Restore busing for all the children the way it was — figure it out,” she said.

If a compromise is to be reached, the two sides have just over a month to do it. School starts the 2nd week of September and the clock is ticking.

How do you think of this busing change? Sound off in our comments section below…

  • Charelle Wilson Hanley

    Teaneck residents are encouraged to come out on Sunday morning at 9:00 a.m., at Eugene Field School, to show support for the Board of Ed as they decide whether or not courtesy busing will be restored for Teaneck’s Public School Students.

    The Town Council cut $6.1 million from the Teaneck Public School’s budget in 2009-2010. The impacts of these cuts are still being felt in 2011-2012. While not happy about the decision, many public school parents agreed with the Board to keep the dollars in the classroom. Thus, education was chosen over transportation and courtesy busing for public school students, grades 1-4, was eliminated.

    Two of Teaneck’s Town Council Members, Elie Katz and Yitz Stern, members of Safe Teaneck, were instrumental in soliciting and securing $85,000 that was earmarked for private school students only. Private School parents were infuriated over the consolidation of bus stops, a minor concession, given what public school students were forced to give up. This placed the Board of Education between a rock and a hard place and forced them to make a difficult decision to accept the funds after they were threatened with a possible law suit. The actions of this group (Safe Teaneck) were deplorable. Without permission, they targeted one of Teaneck’s Board of Education members by listing her home and cell telephone numbers on their flyers in addition to making robo-calls to other private school parents to solicit their support.

    Even after the $85,000 was accepted, and the consolidated bus stops were returned to normal at the Wednesday night Board of Education Meeting, private school parents contacted Channel 2 News on yesterday (Friday, October 5th) to complain about the unsafe bus stops which no longer existed.

    In order to restore equity between both the public and private school students, we strongly urge the Board of Education to reinstate courtesy busing for public school students of Teaneck.

    Please join us as we continue to work in collaboration with the Board of Education. They have continuously looked out for the welfare of all children and have made “EDUCATION and SAFETY” top priorities.

    Laverne Lightburn & Shelley Worrell
    Teaneck PTO Council Co-Presidents
    Submitted by Charelle Wislon Hanley with the premission of Shelley Worrell

  • Charelle Wilson Hanley

    Mr. Morgan,

    This is a pitiful reporting of the Teaneck Township’s busing problem. This report was written from the one-sided concerns of the private school-side of the community. You did not do your job to get the whole story, so this is poor journalism at best. You did not reflect the busing issue as it impacted the busing needs of the whole town.

    The real story was the elimination of busing for the all of the public school’s children grades 1-4; not that the children in the Judaic community had fewer bus stops and that they have to walk farther and have more kids waiting at the stops. Did you know that special consideration was given to the private, schools to provide them with buses, albeit fewer bus stops, given the current financial crisis in Teaneck?

    Instead of getting the real story to your readers, you presented the slanted view of the overall situation that you were given by the special interest group that called you. As a reporter it is your job to investigate the total situation before writing a story from the limited perspective of people who only look out for themselves and do not represent the concerns of the whole township.

    Regardless of the results of the Townships parental outcries: the busing situation was subsequently restored for ALL students in a special meeting yesterday; the facts here could have been better presented to tell the real story from the objective, point of view of a professional reporter.

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