Thursday afternoon, a 7-year old girl was missing for “a short time” after getting on the wrong bus at Morris Elementary, and a 7-year-old University Place boy, who should have taken a van to the Boys and Girls Club but instead got on a school bus, was found around 8:00 pm, August 10, in the 700 block of Triana Boulevard. Triana Blvd. is nowhere near University Place School. It is a good 2.5 miles away, in the Morris Elementary District, and between two fairly heavily traveled roads — not where a 7 year-old should be wandering alone after dark (not that there is any good place for one to be).
One report says the University Place boy got off the bus “15 stops on the bus route away from his home.” Another source reports that “Wardynski says the boy was dropped off in his neighborhood at 3:15.” I think when you are 7 years old, if you are 15 bus stops away from your home, you are no longer in your neighborhood.
Both University Place and Morris are on the doubled-up bus route plan, a cost-saving measure.
I can’t remember two bus-riding kids going missing two days in a row at the start of any other school year, can you?
Something has changed. Is it Superintendent Wardynski’s doubling up bus route plan or Dr. Ed Richardson’s dictate to get rid of bus aides as a cost-saving measure? Both? Coincidences happen, of course, so possibly neither was a contributory factor, but such an explanation wouldn’t pass muster even in pulp fiction.
Huntsville City Schools Superintendent Dr. Casey Wardynski said he is pushing to implement a program called “Zone-R” that will help keep track of students.
“We have GPS, we have video cameras on the bus. We really want full chain of custody of the child. There would be a swipe on or swipe off system as well. We would know in real time when the child got on and off.” said Wardynski.
Let’s review: In past years, Huntsville school children typically didn’t get lost on their way home during the first week of school; that’s why these kids’ troubles are news. Bus procedures changed this year to save money. We need to buy a high tech system to keep track of what child gets on what bus.
However, the HCS must save money, although, as Geek Palaver reminds us, with the Board deciding to pay Wardynski “a salary $55,000 over the minimum, with his hiring of a $60,000/year aide for himself, with his hiring of a CFO at a ‘
nationally competitive rate,’ with his plans to hire the organization that ‘trained’ him to be a superintendent as a consultant at another $60k,” you can be forgiven if you think otherwise.
I see that Hampton Cove Elementary, one of the schools in Superintendent Wardynski’s double-up scheme, got their buses back after parents noted confusion in knowing when to expect their kids home. Well done, Hampton Cove parents. I’m impressed. Truly. Take me to your leader. He or she is someone who gets things done, and we — as a community — need help.
Hampton Cove leader, can you please come across town and work your magic with the University Place and Morris parents before someone’s child is found dead in a ditch?