Parents to Improve School Transportation: VOTE YES! SCHOOL BUS BILL OF RIGHTS

 

Loss of instruction time in the afternoon

Saturday, October 30, 2010 9:06:43 AM Categories: Excessive Time O.P.T. Too Many Routes

NYC public schools have an extra 150 minutes a week called Extended Day for students who show need based on state test results (taken toward the end of each grade 3 to 8) and/or principal discretion.

In the ASD Nest program, grades 1 to 2 use this time to go over lessons they have missed during the day because they are taken out of class for mandated Speech and Occupational Therapy group sessions.  These are research based, effective therapies for ASD without which our children’s social skills would be so deficient as to interfere with learning.

All third graders in our school are offered Extended Day twice a week because third grade is the first time students have to take the tests.  A low score can lead to the student repeating the grade.  Multiple low scores in a school can lead to penalties for the school itself.  Though I do not agree with high stakes testing as the only measure of a student’s or a school’s success, I appreciate the effort to give everyone a full complement of study time in advance. 

The first and second routes our son was assigned to each required the driver to leave an hour before the Extended Day dismissal time on the days it occurs.  The principal complained and so did we.

The third route had the correct dismissal time.  The only problem was that on Wednesdays, the upper school (3-5) had to wait for the lower school (first and second) graders who have their 150 spread over three days instead of two. 

Long story short, on Wednesdays only, the older kids had to wait an hour—either on the bus or in a loosely supervised situation such as the cafeteria. Meanwhile there was a Kindergarten child placed on this bus who had to wait for all the others, 50 to 60 minutes, three days a week. 

Note that this arrangement of lower school and upper school sharing buses was done strictly for the convenience of OPT.  However we did not complain much this time, because he was with an escort who knows him and communicated very well with us. 

In early October, OPT took him off that route with no notice, and shifted him first to one existing route and then to a newly created route.Please see the other blogs for more about that mess. 

Bottom line, this fourth route was required to leave school 75 minutes before the Extended Day dismissal time, thus causing him to miss his 150 minutes a week. 

When I called OPT customer service I was told that this was probably the school’s fault for ‘not sending in the schedule details by the deadline.’  They said this would be the way things are, until November 1. So he proceeded to miss half an hour more per week than he was missing during the first week of school when the complaints were supposedly entered.