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Lunenburg after-hours school bus spared the ax

by Stacey Colwell

 LUNENBURG - An after-hours, express school bus from Park View Education Centre to Lunenburg has been spared the ax, at least temporarily.

 "I thought there'd be more use of it than there has been, and had there been, we might have had to look at it for other areas as well, which in one way would have been very good because I think it would have been encouraging students to be taking part in extracurricular activities," said board member Marg Forbes during a recent meeting when a motion to cancel the service was referred to its education committee for further discussion in September.

 "It's always been said to us that [transportation] has been a barrier and I thought this was a real opportunity for students to make use of that, but that didn't prove to be the case, so I'm not sure where we'll go with this."

 The bus service began after former Lunenburg High School students were transferred to Bridgewater and Park View for 2009-10.

 However, director of operations Barry Butler said service to Bridgewater High School was ceased by December because nobody was using it and it was eventually cut back from daily runs to only on Tuesdays at Park View.

 "The numbers were very, very low - ranging from zero to seven - but on a typical day there would be two or three students taking advantage of that bus ... It was my understanding that band members were the only people using it."

 He said a student survey taken early in the school year determined most didn't need the bus.

 Regardless, board member Gary Mailman was reluctant to see the service discontinued altogether.

 "I agree that using an after-hours bus for two or three students is a total waste of money ... but if we have band students who were going to use it next year, maybe we could look at providing cheaper transportation."

 Mr. Butler said the after-hours bus is the only one of its kind within the board. "The reason this bus was put on was because of the short notice of students from Lunenburg High attending Bridgewater and Park View. So this bus was put on to sort of ease that transition ... I don't think it was ever intended to be a permanent solution."

 Board chairman Elliott Payzant agreed, but added it should be in place for as long as needed for those students who did get displaced.

 "So maybe two or three years."

 Further, he said more information is needed from families to determine how many students expect to utilize the service in the future.

 "If it's not going to be used, then it doesn't make much sense. If it is going to be used, and we could do it with something less than a big school bus, then that's something we could possibly look into."

posted on 07/13/10
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