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Elmwood Park, N.J. Parents Upset After Board Votes To Eliminate Most Bus Routes

Imagine Your Child Having To Walk Along Busy And Dangerous Routes 4 And 46
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School buses (credit: CBS 2)

School buses (credit: CBS 2)

ELMWOOD PARK, NJ (CBSNewYork) — On Tuesday night, a Bergen County school board voted to stop providing buses to most public school students.

And parents in Elmwood Park are already scrambling to figure out what to do in September. Once the school year begins, students in the town will have to trek up as much as two miles on foot, and in some cases cross major highways Route 4 and Route 46 just to get to school, reports WCBS 880’s Sean Adams.

WCBS 880’s Sean Adams reports

“[The school] is more than two miles from here, and I’m going to have to take [my son] cause he’s only 5 years old,” one frustrated man told 1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg on Wednesday.

Not only did parents say they’ll be inconvenienced, but they’re also concerned about their child’s safety when he/she has to walk to school.

“Route 46 is very, very bad,” one worried woman said. “It’s not good at all.”

Loveli Ali, who has a problem walking herself, told CBS 2’s Christine Sloan her 8-year-old daughter will have to cross the busy highway when the district eliminates the routes next year.

“She would have to walk down Route 46. There are no sidewalks. There’s no way you can get to this bridge from where we live,” Ali said.

The 16th Avenue School is blocks away from Route 4, but many parents in the neighborhood told Sloan they understand the reasoning for the bus cuts.

“I would rather see them cut school busing than special ed programs,” Chris Jones said.

The move will save the district $300,000, according to Sandberg, and officials said that perhaps the borough, or parents themselves, would want to pay for it. School superintendent Richard Tomko said that the mayor could possibly come up with the necessary funds, or maybe parents could pay a fee each month for buses.

“Bringing this decision to the board and for the board to make this decision was very very difficult. Everybody cares about the safety of students,” Tomko said.

1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg reports

Five new teachers will be able to be hired with the $300,000 savings, Adams reports, but many parents still believe that the cuts should have been made elsewhere. A lot of districts across the state are increasing busing costs. In Elmwood Park, parents who want to use buses in the fall will be charged $50 a month.

“In a way I don’t think it’s fair only because where the school is located,” parent Irena Stojceski said.

“I think a safe and adequate education, if that’s going to be offered to our children, that’s not going to be happening,” Ali added.

Elmwood Park used to bus students if they lived 7/10 of a mile away, but now the district will be in line with the state’s minimum, which is two miles.

Where do you stand on this issue? Is the hiring of five new teachers worth the elimination of most bus routes? Sound off with your comments below…

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