DRACUT -- The Dracut Public School District's bus routes are back on track, say school officials, who have scheduled a special informational meeting on Tuesday for concerned parents.
Not long after the district published on its website and Facebook page earlier this week the bus routes that were provided by the Methuen-based North Reading Transportation for the 2014-15 school year, confused and upset parents began posting messages and calling to register their complaints.
"Once the bus routes were published, we began to get all kinds of phone calls saying these routes don't make any sense," said School Committee Chairman Michael McNamara. "Before the corrections were made, some routes were set up in such a way that it had some elementary-school kids riding their buses for over an hour. We also had a lot of backtracking, with the same buses going on the same particular street three different times during the same run. It just became a real concern for the parents."
In a meeting called Thursday by Superintendent of Schools Steven Stone with all of the Dracut schools' principals and their administrative assistants, the group analyzed each of the bus routes and discovered 50 errors and inefficiencies, according to McNamara.
The Dracut school officials' corrections were delivered to the bus company Friday, and the revised routes were expected to be posted to the school district's website by today, McNamara said. School opens in Dracut on Thursday.
McNamara invited any parents who have questions about the bus routes and schedule to attend an informational session that will be hosted by Stone and School Committee members on Tuesday from 6 to 7 p.m. at Harmony Hall.
McNamara said four factors contributed to the bus-route problems: a number of missing bus forms from parents; the Dracut schools redistricting plan that was enacted over the summer; the placing of four elementary schools, up from three last year, on the same time schedule; and the district's new policy regarding busing to day-care centers.
"There was a number of changes that came together and caused the problem to come about, like a perfect storm," McNamara said. "I give a lot of credit to Steven Stone, the principals and secretaries who know the town and the bus routes, and who corrected these errors."
The school district, which serves approximately 4,000 students in six schools from pre-kindergarten through grade 12, is entering its sixth year of contracting for the services of North Reading Transportation.
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