| Apr 02, 2009

Back to HomeFeature Article - April 2, 2009 Coping with the bus strikeBy Jeff Green

The strike by drivers at Stock Transportation has had an impact on four bus routes each at Harrowsmith Public and Catholic Schools, two bus routes at Hinchinbrooke School in Parham, and one bus at Sydenham High School.

Harrowsmith Public School Principal Jim Horan said that about 70 students, out of a total population of almost 300, have been depending on family and neighbours to get to school each day, but the school itself has been fortunate that increased traffic due to the lack of buses has been manageable.

“It's been particularly busy,” he said, “and the parking lot is certainly full, but there has been a great sense of goodwill”.

Horan said the school has not had to take an organizing role in arranging rides, and this is a tribute to the community spirit of Harrowsmith.

“I think it’s a case of Harrowsmith coming together one more time. In all situations, it is a community that comes together to make sure that the needs of everyone are taken care of. I'd like to acknowledge the contribution of grandparents, aunts and uncles, who have become integral at this time,” he said.

The strike is only one week old, however, and some parents are beginning to worry that the ad hoc arrangements they have made will have to carry them to the end of the school year.

One of those parents is Jennifer Piero, of Hartington. She is the mother of three boys, aged, 9, 11, and 13. Both she and her husband work in Kingston, and the boys' grandparents have been picking them up after school each day.

“It's another thing to worry about” she said about the lack of bussing, “but we don't have much choice. One way or another the kids have to get to school. I worry that this is going to carry on until the end of the school year, because I hear that there are no negotiations going on”.

Jennifer Piero added that while Harrowmsith PS does not have any before or after school programs in place, the teachers have been very accommodating, opening the school a half an hour early in the mornings and closing it a half an hour later in the afternoon.

“They don't get paid for doing that, but they are doing it. I know that if I called and said I couldn't get there until 5:00, someone would sit and wait with the kids”.

For his part, Jim Horan thinks what has been happening since the bus strike at Harrowsmith is something that wouldn't likely take place at an urban school. “The role of extended families, grandparents in particular, in the life of our school is something that is really remarkable,” he said, “I can't say enough about how lucky the kids are to have that kind of family support”. 

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