"Back-to-school" means preparation. Parents need to figure out if the shoes their child wore all summer still fit, buy replacements, get clothing, haircuts and supplies. If your child is very young, you start prepping his/her little mind for the separation. You might have discussed what school is like. You might have talked with him/her about getting on the bus. All suited up and ready to go, and many parents and children this past week were left stranded at the bus stop.
It seems the Northport/East Northport school district didn't do its own back-to-school preparation. In some instances, parents and children were left stranded. In others, paperwork was never completed for their son or daughter. One parent received paperwork confirming the route and pickup time of one of her sons, while receiving nothing for the other son. In my family's case, a routing change needed to be made. My wife completed all of the paperwork properly and in a timely way, only to receive no confirmation that the change was made. She called the busing company and was given an email address to write; ostensibly, she could receive confirmation that way. She wrote three times, only to have each email bounced back with a note indicating the email address wasn't valid. Later, the busing company refused to pick up its phone and its voice mail was too full to accept more messages. Ultimately, my wife had to drive to the office to communicate with a human being and have our issue addressed professionally.
This past week, Superintendent of Schools Marylou McDermott produced a robocall that went out to a random number of houses apologizing for the busing mishap (neither I nor others nearby received the call--a friend about five miles away received it). In the robocall, I'm told that McDermott blamed the problems on the hurricane (recall, Irene blew through more than seven days prior).
I'm skeptical of this excuse. This seems more like a competency and staffing issue. Busing has been outsourced to private companies. Their purpose isn't to deliver my son to school as much as it is to make profit for investors. Whoever is in charge didn't have adequate staff to handle an entirely predictable event--the first day of school. Cost cutting? Enhanced profit? Accountability? Even if the hurricane is given the blame, what about howling winds in August prevented these busing companies from picking up their phones in September? The phone lines weren't down; my wife had spoken on the phone with our busing company earlier in the week--after the hurricane. These were the phone calls during which my wife was given the inoperable email addresses.
On Friday I emailed the superintendent asking for further clarification about the role of the hurricane in the busing mess. No response has been received yet. I hope she's doing her homework.