To the editor: Andover families decry spotty GM bus service as ‘unacceptable’

We, the parents and taxpayers of Bus #4 (the “Andover” school bus) want to make all of you aware of a disservice being done to the families who live in Andover, the outer edge of Chester, and Londonderry.

Since mid-April there has been only sporadic school bus service to Andover, Londonderry, Potash Brook Road and Rt. 11 to Chester. On some days the school has even neglected to notify us there wouldn’t be a bus and many have been left just waiting at their bus stop for a bus that never came.

What is TRSU doing, you ask? Well, actually very little. Mr. Parah, the Bus Supervisor, and Mr. Ripley, the Associate Principal have pointed out that efforts are being made to hire a new driver. An ad in the Journal and a sign at the bottom of Green Mountain’s driveway is not, in our opinion, much of an effort. When asked why there aren’t ads in other media (like the Telegraph), Mr. Ripley’s reply was “that is the District’s decision.”

When asked why Mr. Parah the Supervisor is not driving a bus himself (which historically has always been done and is the role of a supervisor), we received no response. Many parents have offered pretty creative solutions and have not received a response to those suggestions, nor has any real action been taken to provide bus service to our students. This is unacceptable and we are disappointed and outraged that nothing is being done. Below are solutions that have been offered up with no response:

  • Have a Chester bus make a second run to Andover to pick students up in the AM – we are willing to discuss temporary consolidation of stops, if that becomes necessary to make it more efficient.
  • Contract with the Current for bus service – again consolidation of stops could be discussed.
  • Lease two 15-passenger vans – no CDL required which would open the possibility to additional job applicants.

Our children are challenged to think of creative solutions every day – why isn’t the administration in this District expected to do the same?

We have all paid our fair share of taxes and we insist that our children receive the services we are paying for!

On behalf of all Bus 4 families,

Savannah & TC Gramling
Daire & Darcy Gibney
Elizabeth Houseman
Wes Williams
Bill & Jeanette Haight
Sean & Leanna Snyder

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  1. Marilyn Mahusky says:

    Transportation has been a particular challenge this year for GMUHS which serves students in Andover, Cavendish and Chester.

    Todd Parah, transportation director for the district, and the administration have worked diligently to solve the problem, including raising the salary 2x to $22/hour.

    The administration has also made tremendous efforts to communicate daily with families in Andover to keep them apprised on a daily basis whether a bus will be available or not. We apologize if there has been a breakdown in communication and truly appreciate the challenges this problem has created for families.

    Please be assured the district is doing everything possible to address the problem. School districts across the state are facing similar challenges in finding qualified candidates to fill these positions.

    At the next GMUSD Board Meeting on June 12 at 6 p.m. at Cavendish Elementary School, the board will review the independent Transportation Audit requested by the board last fall. Members of the community are welcomed to attend the meeting.

    Sincerely,

    Marilyn Mahusky
    Board Chair, GMUSD

  2. Jamie M. says:

    Well, I do have to say that is not nearly all the Bus 4 families listed above, as I am also one, as well as two of my neighbors not listed. Yes, it has been a lot to drive from Andover to Chester twice a day.

    In response to Skip Woodruff, I believe the neighboring districts are also having similar bus problems. I know Cavendish has had a shortage of drivers as well. I wonder if creating a stop at the end of Andover Road, where another bus could pick up the Andover kids, would also be a possible suggestion. At least then it is only halfway to Chester.

    It is quite frustrating. There must be a reason for all the drivers not working out. And it also makes me nervous that because of the problem, they are hiring quickly and not doing great checks on people, thus leading to a fired driver later.

  3. Stuart Lindberg says:

    ACT 46 has provided students with greater learning opportunities. One of these opportunities is learning patience. Patience to sit on the bus for a longer ride to school. Another one is to sit at the bus stop and wait for a ride that will never come. It has also provided students with the opportunity to see their parents and grandparent’s struggle harder to pay their tax bill. This all builds character. Be sure to thank a Democrat for these great opportunities. You can thank the RINO Phil Scott while you are at it.

  4. M Piasecki says:

    Back in the olden days (the ’80s), we lived at the very top of Reservoir Road. My parents were paid a daily allotment to drive us the 4 miles down the road so the bus could pick us up at the Stone Hearth Inn. If parents are having to drive their children into school when they are paying taxes for such a service, shouldn’t that come out of the non-existent bus driver’s salary and be given back to those parents who are having to adjust their lives (and gas tanks) in order to provide transportation?

  5. Greg Hart says:

    Unacceptable. I can’t say that I know what is or isn’t being done, but this is a problem that has been ongoing for years, and has only gotten progressively worse. Whatever the “efforts” of this so called search for drivers, they are not working. The children and families impacted deserve better. Our SCHOOL deserves better.

  6. Skip Woodruff says:

    As a former school bus driver myself, I wonder why they have not reached out to neighboring districts to “borrow” a spare driver. It is a common practice that we employed when needed.

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