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Take Our Poll: How Far is Too Far for Willow Lane Students to Walk?

Is 1.5 miles too far for elementary school students to walk?

Several parents approached East Penn School directors at the June 25 meeting to express concern over the possibility of the elimination of busing of students who live within 1.5 miles of

The elimination, , will save the district $60,000.

The parents who feared for their children's safety mentioned the blind curves along Willow Lane, others the absence sidewalks in some places.

Todd Solomon, a father of three Willow Lane students, identified the absence of crossing guards.

Jonathan Berger echoed Solomon, adding details such as the logistical nightmare that would occur as hundreds of parents deliver their children every morning.

He also mentioned predators, snow, freezing temperatures and the vehicle emissions that will cloud the air.

When parents were through, board members discussed the issue.

Director Julian Stolz vowed continued -- though eventually futile -- support for maintaining the busing of all students.

Superintendent Thomas Seidenberger reminded taxpayers that Willow Lane was planned as a school to which students were intended to walk.

Director Alan Earnshaw agreed.

"The busing issue is not new. We talked about this all through the planning process. We put off eliminating the buses because it was a nice thing to do," Earnshaw said, adding the economic climate no longer can accommodate the service.

Director Lynn Donches suggested introducing the the action in "baby steps," by eliminating buses two days a week.

Her suggestion was discounted.

Patch readers expressed several ideas after the story appeared Tuesday. Among them was one that suggested the district could shorten the distance beyond which students -- aged 5 to 10 -- would walk to a half or three-quarters of a mile instead of 1.5 miles.

What do you think?

Sheriffchris June 27, 2012 at 07:06 PM
Hey... they are your kids...if you really fear for their safety and legs either accompany them to school or drive them yourself...take responsibility for your children . Why should taxpayers provide taxie service !!!!
taxed-enough June 27, 2012 at 07:09 PM
Robert, I agree. The school district was not created for the purpose of providing high paying jobs.
jncdd23 June 27, 2012 at 07:17 PM
So this is going a bit far back and some of you on here may not even remember this. When I attended Shoemaker School we had crossing guards. It was a bunch of walkers that signed up to be crossing guards. We were organized by a teacher and given our assignments. The roads that were not as heavily traveled the kids could be by themselves, the busier streets we had an adult with us. We had cool bright orange strap thingy’s with a Badge and a flag on the end of a pole that of course said STOP. We would have one foot on the sidewalk and one in the street and the flag was extended into the roadway. There would be a student on either side of the street. If the intersection has four stop signs we would have four kids and each one did a double duty. The fifth grade students would be the crossing guards. I remember when we were finally able to be crossing guards this was really "Cool" for us. It not only teaches the kids to be responsible but the kids also feel good about themselves.
Robert Sentner June 27, 2012 at 07:32 PM
yeah we had that at Jefferson too, the problem is I am sure it isn't in the contract for the teachers to do that. To have : Carl, Diescher, Radar, Christoff, Windt, Russo, Gibb, Koltisko, Miller teaching our kids now. They arrived at school with sport coat, Tie, Dresses. Now those were some teachers that should have made the big $$$$$'s Not that there isn't good teachers now but those teachers went above and beyond. Very fond memory's now....LOL wait we can take the 60,000 we saved and hire one new teacher to do that job. NO that wouldn't work because it would cost much more than 60 grand with salary and benefits.
Emmaus Mom June 27, 2012 at 09:30 PM
Mr. Sentner - If you would take a few minutes and drive past Jefferson either before or after school you would see teachers (and some of them are even wearing dresses) posted outside of the building for student arrival and dismissal. You would also see crossing guards posted at the busier intersections surrounding both Lincoln and Jefferson. Students are no longer allowed to act as crossing guards for safety issues. The one missing piece of the puzzle is the Emmaus police who very rarely get out of their cars to assist with student safety. And, yes, I went to Jefferson, Lincoln and EJHS during your "golden years" of teachers, and yes, they were wonderful. They are the same retired teachers who are now having a wonderful retirement thanks to the teachers' union that you constantly demonize.
Robert Sentner June 27, 2012 at 11:05 PM
Emmaus Mom, I dropped off and picked my son off at jefferson for 4 years and never once did I see a "school teacher" off of school property. and as far as Emmaus police very rarely getting out of there cars to help, thats just not true. Maybe if the Emmaus Police who put there life on the line everyday made as much as the janitors at the EPSD they could do more. As far as me demonizing union's they are going to bankrupt this country.
tamarya June 27, 2012 at 11:10 PM
I got a plan, go to the mobile home on mountain and shoeneck park your car and get out and walk from there to the school, see if you can do it. I know if we lived there and they eventually took busing completely away from willow lane if my car did not run wherher it broke down or for any reason my husband had it, my kids would be getting marked absent. Walked from that location down to orchard and mountain for the bus stop and almost got hit by another first student bus. When the bus almost hit us the stop was changed the end of the school day.
Emmaus Mom June 27, 2012 at 11:45 PM
Why would a teacher be off of school property? That doesn't even make sense. They have to be on school property at their assigned times...Isn't that how any job works? And you obviously didn't fully understand what I was trying to say about the police. They could easily man a corner or two in the morning in order to help the students cross the street. All I'm saying is get your facts straight before you scrutinize other people. And I'm pretty sure that if you were ever given the opportunity to get a job as a custodian in a school district you would be thankful and not turn it down. My bad for getting involved in this thread...some people are just always looking for something to gripe about!!
tamarya June 28, 2012 at 12:06 AM
I think one of a few that think it is brilliant busing is being cut should be the first in line to volunteer. But then why would they, they sure give their opinion while they are driving their cars around. God how will they wait for the school traffic going in and out of the school, and I wonder how many of them walk to their jobs everyday.
tamarya June 28, 2012 at 12:07 AM
Thats good you walked to school, but do you walk to work everyday now?
tamarya June 28, 2012 at 12:08 AM
And you can count on one hand, I cannot count on any hands of accidents that happened at bus stops.
Robert Sentner June 28, 2012 at 12:10 AM
My facts are correct. Damn right I wouldn't turn it down..... who in this economy would turn down a union janitor job $$$$$ cha ching. I am not faulting the janiotors for having the job, I am faulting the school board or superintendant or whoevers job it is to think out of the box to make sure there is enough money to PROPERLY educate and keep our children safe while not constantly raising taxes. how much is the pension contribution going up in 2014 ???? just wait to people see that number. And as far as teachers being off the property in my day thats exactly what would happen, Mr Radar, Diescher, Carl and a couple of other teachers walked the area. god forbid there asked to do something thats not in there contract. All I am saying is it was a totally different breed of teacher back then.
truth seeker June 28, 2012 at 02:12 AM
Just so everybody knows, whenever a teacher comes in before school, or stays after to help a child, that is outside of the contract. Believe me when I tell you that happens all the time. I also personally know teachers that have used their own money to pay for supplies to enhance lessons. Rob you disrespect all of them with the post you made tonight. Also, janitors and teachers make middle class salaries and you apparently do not like that. You also apparently dislike them and their unions and that is fine although your constantly blaming them for the pension bomb is absurd. Idiotic GOP lawmkers started that bomb ticking in 2001 and the parisitic bankers and investement fools that made the ecomomy crash are just as much to blame. Before all of that, the state pension funds were self sustaining off investments alone. $$$$$$ cha ching huh? Sounds more like the natural gas industry which could do everything you mentioned and more with the same severence tax used in West Virginia. $$$$$$ cha ching also describes the Shell oil tax deal they just landed. But you stay after these teachers and unions.
careless fills June 28, 2012 at 03:06 AM
Unfortunately, the school board has tied its own hands with the one-year pay freezes it negotiated for last year. Pay increases for the next three years are guaranteed. Layoffs are prohibitted for any reason, including economics and even declining enrollment for the duration of the extended contract.
Michael D Siegel June 28, 2012 at 04:14 AM
Ok Lets settle this argument. We agree to have crossing guards at the intersections needed. These crossing guards shall be paid the same salary as the janitors, be certified and shall be unionized. This is for the safety of the children. Now how many of the parents would agree to this and if the EPSD Board really cared for the safety of the walking children, they would agree as well? Come on parents speak up and put your money where your mouth is. I bet I hear silence. The fact that the safety of children are a concerned as being crossing guards is pure BS. I grew up being one of this guards and sure encouraged me to be responsible. Maybe its time that some of the parents volunteer their time as a crossing guard rather than sucking down their starbucks coffee shooting the sh*&, with the other parents while standing at corner waiting for their kid to get off the bus or burning valuable petrol in their heated or air conditioned car. God I pray that it does not rain or your child may melt like the witch in the wizard of oz. The EPSD is not a taxi service or a baby sitting service and on my dime, I am glad the EPSD board is doing this. Wait until funding is cut completely for busing for the entire state. Its coming and not too soon.
LMTnative June 28, 2012 at 12:53 PM
EPSD already dismisses elementary students who all walk every day at Lincoln and Jefferson. Why should the entitled at Willow be any different?
LMTnative June 28, 2012 at 12:57 PM
Chris, you hit the nail on the head. This will require parents to parent their children. They believe that's the job of the schools.
LMTnative June 28, 2012 at 01:02 PM
If walkers and crossing guards work at Lincoln and Jefferson why can't they work at Willow? Why are these students so different?
seriousthinking June 28, 2012 at 01:07 PM
@Michael...that is really an ignorant statement. There are many parents that spend countless hours volunteering their time at Willow Lane. In fact with 30 students per class it is almost necessary for these parents to be there to help. It is so easy to assume that all we do is drink Starbucks and bs all day...seriously you are so good at assumptions.
LMTnative June 28, 2012 at 01:09 PM
Well said Mike! Unfortunately the fluorescent vests would clash with their outfits and standing out on a street corner is beneath most of the folks in those neighborhoods. They care about the safely of their children when they can sit inside their homes and complain on blogs like this or call offices (schools district, township, bus company etc.) on the phone and demand action. However, when the rubber hits the road they're too lasy to get off their butts and do something proactive about the situation. Besides, they pay an lot of taxes and are entitled to these services that someone (anyone) else must provide for them.
seriousthinking June 28, 2012 at 01:11 PM
Again Einsteins...none of you have no clue how much time the parents already do and are happy to volunteer at the school!
taxed-enough June 28, 2012 at 02:52 PM
Are you guys really seeing the big picture? BIG PICTURE....our school board is extremely friendly to organized labor and the labor unions. The Teamster Unions get rich by entering into these contracts like for the janitors. The school board chooses to save money and focus on cutting spending on transportation that affects students and parents, but protects the money that goes to the organized labor union members. Have you read the contract for the Teamsters? East Penn MUST have 83 custodians which are Teamster union members, and can not reduce the workforce even if there is a decline in student size. Even if a janitor retires, they can't even reduce to less than 83 janitors even by attrition. Could we get by with 82 or 81 custodians? Pretty likely. But, the school bus drivers are not Teamster union members, so that is where the cuts must occur. If the school bus drivers were Teamsters, we would not be having this conversation.
Ron Beitler June 28, 2012 at 03:09 PM
Taxed enough - No one sees the big picture. People only react when something affects them personally.
truth seeker June 28, 2012 at 03:36 PM
http://lehighvalleywithlove.com/post/226005140/east-penn-kids-left-busless-a-few-alternatives Taxed enough check your facts. They are organized by the teamsters.
taxed-enough June 28, 2012 at 04:18 PM
Truth seeker, I see your point. I phrased that completely wrong. Thank you. However, from what I read from the Janitor contract, there is a guarantee for 83 janitorial jobs through the Teamster's union. We can not go under 83 janitors even in bad economic times, and even if we have fewer students, and even if one retires. So, the Teamster jobs for the janitors are guaranteed which are a direct contract between the school board and the Teamsters. And, if there are cost reductions it can not be done there. However, these bus driver jobs, well they involve First Student and obviously not protected in the same way. The school board is very interested in cutting down with costs when it involves transportation from what I have seen and heard at board meetings. However, if you bring up one of these 83 Teamster janitorial jobs, Dr. Seidenberger is not receptive at all to ideas like that.
Michael D Siegel June 28, 2012 at 06:47 PM
Seriousthinking- if you are saying that there are many parents who volunteer their time, then get off your high horse and start a crossing guard volunteer group and a safety cadet program for the fifth and sixth graders. Its great that parents have the time to help the teachers but its time that parents share that same same sentiment and enthusiasm with reducing the overall expenses of all school district functions. I am sure their are retired police officers, housewives and former teachers who would not mind being teachers of individual responsibility, something many parents take for granted that teachers teach in a normal day to day classroom activities. While in the classroom, why not help the teachers teach about safety to the children for walking home from school, talking to strangers, buddy system, carrying whistles etc and of course PA Megans List of child predators who live near the school. ( you better look) By the way thanks for calling me an Einstein because science is my favorite subject.
seriousthinking June 28, 2012 at 09:27 PM
Sorry Michael, Im too busy drinking my Starbucks and BSing to get off my high horse.
Knitted in the Womb August 17, 2012 at 07:32 PM
People are concerned about snow and rain??? REALLY??? I walked to school living in the Syracuse NY area...130 inches of snow a year, and more rainy than Seattle. Get a warm coat and an umbrella! My kids go to Wescosville, and really, I would welcome walking to Wescosville if some sidewalks were put in along Brookside Rd. Of course half the traffic on Brookside Rd at the beginning of the school day is already parents who are dropping off their kids rather than letting them ride the bus, so I can only imagine what it would be like if there was *walking* added into the mix. One school I went to as a child bussed children *to* school in the morning when there was more traffic on the streets with people driving to work, but then had kids walk home in the afternoon. This is one compromise that might be considered.
Knitted in the Womb August 17, 2012 at 07:44 PM
There are actually FEWER child abductions now than there were in the 70's...we just hear more about them now via the media.
Knitted in the Womb August 17, 2012 at 07:46 PM
Tamarya...I know of a student who was killed at a bus stop at the school I grew up at. A substitute bus driver accidentally drove past her stop...realizing the mistake, turned around to go get the girl. The girl ran to cross the street to get on the bus--before the bus had stopped.

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