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J. Thorpe parents worried about losing bus monitors

Published February 04. 2011 05:00PM

Residents and parents of the Jim Thorpe Area School District (JTASD) have voiced their concerns regarding the possibility of losing monitors on the district buses.

The issue was brought up at this week's school board meeting by area resident Joe Partenio.

"Due to budget constraints monitor positions have been reduced," Partenio said.

A petition with 450 signatures was presented by Partenio.

"We present this petition to the board to fervently consider the voice of the people and keep the monitors on our school buses," he said.

In an interview, William Juracka, the director of Transportation and Security at JTASD, said that the school district works with two transportation companies, Getz Transportation and Kuhn Transportation. Juracka also said that last school year two companies signed contracts with the school district.

These contracts meant that bus monitors were no longer employed by JTASD but by the transportation companies themselves.

Business manager and board secretary of JTASD, Lauren Kovac, stated in an interview that, "JTASD budgeted up to $50,000 to each transportation company to help defray the cost of employing bus monitors."

She added, "Getz Transportation is close to the $50,000 limit and Kuhn Transportation still has more to go before they reach the limit."

Kovac went on to say that these transportation companies have the option to employ and pay for the bus monitors after the budgeted $50,000 is spent.

At the school board meeting Partenio discussed the safety concerns of losing monitors if they cannot be funded.

"Without monitors the safety of our children is being cast to the wind." Partenio said. "Bus drivers need to focus their full attention on their driving by being alert to darting deer, hidden streets and driveways, and blind turns."

Issues of bad weather conditions requiring the full attention of the driver and big groups of children in small spaces needing to be maintained were also brought up.

JTASD Superintendent, Barbara Conway discussed how the school board can work on keeping students on the buses safe, and she plans to put Juracka, in charge.

"We will be taking a look at bus rules and doing an update on them," Conway stated. "We will take a fresh look at safety issues on buses."

It was also suggested by board member Randall Smith, "to do some work with the students," and to better understand what the expectations are on the buses as far as appropriate behavior.

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