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Education Advocates Debate Student Transportation Distance

February 26th, 2017 · 19 Comments · Education, News and Events

FaithActs for Education 1.5-mile protest walk

Photo contributed by FaithActs.

On Friday the community action group FaithActs for Education, citing safety concerns, protested a possible cut to busing services for elementary students who live between 1 and 1.5 miles from school that could save the financially strapped Bridgeport school district $1.3 million in transportation costs. School board member Maria Pereira asserts Governor Dan Malloy’s proposed budget will strip Bridgeport of $4.6 million.

The Board of Education, see agenda here, will meet Monday, 6:30pm at the Aquaculture School. It’s unclear, based on the agenda, if the transportation issue will be discussed.

The vast majority of students who do not have access to bus transportation generally will receive a ride from family or guardians.

Pereira has examined other school districts such as Hartford and New Haven to see what they’re doing different than Bridgeport to save money. New Haven, she says, has a 1.5-mile model.

In a news release FaithActs asserts five school board members last November publicly committed to maintain a busing distance of one mile. Pereira, who did not attend, claims the FaithActs community forum meeting was conducted in violation of state law.

News release provided by FaithActs community organizer Keyla Medina:

On Monday, February 27, the Bridgeport Board of Education may vote to cut busing services for elementary students who live between 1 and 1.5 miles from school. By Monday’s meeting, the Board will have publicly discussed the issue twice–a prerequisite for raising a vote. These cuts would impact more than 2,000 of Bridgeport’s youngest and most vulnerable children.

At the FaithActs Community Forum with the Board of Education in November 2016, Board members Joe Larcheveque, Dennis Bradley, Howard Gardner, Annette Segarra-Negron, and Ben Walker–a quorum of the district’s governing body–publicly committed to maintain a busing distance of 1 mile in order to protect children’s safety.

At 8:00am on Friday, February 24, members of FaithActs for Education protested the proposed cuts by walking to school with students who would lose their busing services. Our goal was to demonstrate what it would really be like for our youngest students to walk 1.5 miles to school every day.

Pastors and parents accompanied three first- and fifth-grade students for 1.5 miles, beginning at their homes on Wayne Street and ending at the front entrance of Park City Magnet School on Chopsey Hill Road. Even with fair weather and a police presence to protect the children from traffic, it took 33 minutes to reach their school.

During our 1.5 Mile Protest Walk, we experienced:
- No sidewalks for over a mile
- Busy intersections without crossing guards
- Trash, broken bottles, and refuse in our path
- Speeding cars and aggressive drivers

It is irresponsible and immoral to balance a budget by endangering children’s lives. It’s also unclear how much of their funding the Board of Education would even save by making these cuts. FaithActs members have publicly demanded that the busing distance for elementary students remain 1 mile, we’ve secured public commitments from members of the Board, and we’ll continue to hold them to those commitments.

FaithActs would like to extend our sincere gratitude to City Council member Jeanette Herron, Board of Education member Dennis Bradley, and the officers of the Bridgeport Police Department who joined us for the 1.5 Mile Protest Walk.

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19 Comments so far ↓

  • Ron Mackey

    Is the issue 1.5 miles compared to 1 mile to school for bus service for students or is it about FaithActs for Education? This is a health and safety issue for the Bridgeport school system’s students.

  • Maria Pereira

    I could care less about anything FaithActs for Education thinks or has to say. Ms. Stewart and the other two white staffers are former employees of CanCON and do not reside in Bridgeport.

    We made devastating cuts after Mayor Ganim, including City Council Member Herron voted to flat-fund the BPS leaving us to deal with a $15,000,000 deficit.

    Now Malloy is proposing $4,600,000 cut for next year as his answer to the CCJEF and equitably funding the BPS.

    We need an addition $11,600,000 just add back kindergarten paras and simply maintain what we have right now.

    Our elementary school-age students who live one mile or less have walked to school for decades. That seems to be okay, but heaven forbid we have children walking one point five miles. In addition, the children in Bridgeport have one of the highest child obesity rates in CT. An hour of walking five days a week is good for them.

    Elementary school begins at 8:40am and ends at 3:40pm. How much crime occurs between 8:00am and 4:00pm? Once again, public safety is under the control of Mayor Ganim, City Council, Chief Perez, etc.

    If there aren’t sidewalks, crosswalks, stop signs, traffic lights, to your satisfaction, or if there is debris and issues with snow; please contact Mayor Ganim, Jeannette Herron and the entire City Council, which are responsible for all of the above.

    There isn’t a single proposed cut that is what is”best” for our children, however if the choice is cutting teachers, social workers, guidance counselors, additional paras, programming, etc. which directly impact academic and social emotional learning and well-being, or changing bus transportation from 1.0 to 1.5 miles, the choice is obvious to me.

    In closing, just last year alone, the Bridgeport Public Schools spent over $6,000,000 on special ed. and bus transportation costs for Charter School students who are not under our purview.

    This charlatan organization is funded by Charter $chool investors, therefore I have a great idea for FaithActs for Education. Why don’t you lobby the legislature to change the law so Charter $chools have to pay for their own bus transportation so that our true public school children can have the bus transportation they should have?

    While a busload of actual Bridgeport residents and parents testified before the state Board of Education and the legislature in 2014 to block Great Oaks Charter and Capital Prep Harbor Charter School because we knew the BPS would lose millions in covering their costs; Reverend McCullough, Jamiliah Price, and the other two former CanCON staff currently on the FaithActs payroll were up there lobbying and testifying in favor of these two additional Charter $chools.

    Pure hypocrisy.

  • Frank Gyure

    I really have mixed feelings about this. Education in the City of Bridgeport (elementary and high school) has been screwed up for decades and it’s getting worse. Maybe the BOE should just say F**k It and throw it back to Joe Ganim and the City Council. There is a time to say NO!

  • Marshall Marcus

    I agree with much of what Maria P says regarding priorities. Better to have services and let children walk an extra 1/2 mile than bus them to schools that cannot provide needed services.

    I would point out most Bpt elementary schools dismiss by 3:10PM, not 3:40, so even on the shortest days of the year, walking children would be home before dark.

  • Frank Gyure

    I disagree and it has nothing to do with Faith Acts (who I think are just a Trojan Horse for charter schools and all those who are behind the scenes about charter schools in Bridgeport. I see the words “non-profitable” but beyond the scenes, there are huge amounts of tax credits etc. so charter schools are profitable for the financial backers. I have to do some research but how many charter schools exist from Fairfield to Greenwich? I am truly curious.

    • Maria Pereira

      Frank, I think there are six in Bridgeport, one in Norwalk, and three in Stamford.

      One of the requirements of the federal law signed by Bill Clinton is in order to receive the very generous tax credit; the charter school must be located in a “depressed” community.

      This is why they don’t open in affluent communities. In addition, those communities would not tolerate losing money to Charter $chools.

  • Frank Gyure

    Massachusetts had a referendum about charter schools and whether or not to expand charter schools. Massachusetts voters said NO. Connecticut needs a similar referendum. Charter Schools proliferate in the urban crappy areas but there are no charter schools in the suburbs. Is this a hint of what is going on? I read Connecticut is spending Twenty Million Dollars on Charter Schools. Charter Schools are essentially private schools and not a penny of public funds should be going to charter/private schools. The scam of charter schools needs to be brought into the full sunlight of citizen review and a different picture will emerge.

    • Marshall Marcus

      Frank,
      Highville Charter School is in Hamden (a suburb of New Haven) on Leeder Hill Drive.

      Almost every other Charter School in CT is in a large city with the exception of Explorations Charter in Winsted, a town of only 7,300 people in northern Litchfield County which is 93% white.

      Here is a link to all the charter schools in CT, BUT the list is DEFECTIVE. Many are actually in California as designated by Zip Codes beginning with the digit 9.
      www .charterschooltools.org/charterSchools.cfm?stateID=7

  • Maria Pereira

    Ms. Medina, the only reason it is unclear how much the BOE would save by implementing this change is because you and your compensated colleagues are clueless.

    This has repeatedly been discussed in Finance Committees and regular meetings including our last meeting which included a PowerPoint presentation.

    In closing, “trash” and “refuse” are generally the same thing.

    And while “BPD” was escorting these three students who were surrounded by adults; were police officers personally escorting the thousands of school children who walk to school up to a mile 5 days a week and a total of 182 days per school year?

    What a joke.

  • Mojo

    *** Different school-age generation now, these kids have problems getting to school on a bus, never mind walking up to a mile or more to school! Make the cuts because if they really want an education, they’ll make the effort to get there somehow, bus, parents or group rides, etc. ***

    • Ron Mackey

      Mojo, c’mon man, “if they really want an education, they’ll make the effort to get there somehow”? So now we are leaving it up to children to decide if they want to go to school? What age is okay for a child to walk a mile and a half?

  • Mojo

    Nothing in my blog says leave it to the children! However there are far too many kids on buses these days, no? Public Ed. never has enough money to make ends meet yet they overspend what they get on all the wrong things. Bpt needs more charter schools, private schools and smaller classrooms as well. Besides, the more money they save and get during budget time, the more they mismanage!

    • Maria Pereira

      No, Bridgeport does not need more Charter schools. What Bridgeport needs is to have every single Charter school located in Bridgeport closed.

  • Ron Mackey

    Mojo, now on this one I’m in agreement with you.

  • Marshall Marcus

    Mojo,
    I don’t agree that Bridgeport needs more schools.
    Every time you add a school you add huge duplicative costs that aren’t directly related to the classroom and instruction:
    Principal
    Asst. Principal
    Guidance Staff
    Kitchen/Cafeteria
    Gym/Auditorium
    Ball Fields

    Better to add on and reduce class size than saddle the taxpayers with millions in building and operational costs.

  • Mojo

    There have to be more choices available to urban city parents’ children than just public schools! The school building construction of high-rise schools that have a thousand or more kids is whack. Middle schools for grades 6 to 8 are needed to keep classes smaller in size and the older kids away from the smaller kids. More tech. High schools are needed to seek other job skills for teens interested in jobs in the vocational fields! America’s kids are lacking in many trades being taught in other countries.

  • Ron Mackey

    American school systems are so outdated, the classrooms are basically the same as they were 100 years ago. One size does not fit all but that’s what America has with public education.

  • Ron Mackey

    So what happened last night?

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