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So. Lehigh Parent: Children's 75-Minute Bus Ride is Too Long

A Southern Lehigh School District mother whose children attend St. Thomas More School in Salisbury Township told the school board Monday the amount of time her children spend on the bus on their way home is too much.

A Southern Lehigh School District mother whose children attend St. Thomas More School in Salisbury Township told the school board Monday the amount of time her children spend on the bus on their way home is too much.

Sonja Burmeister of Upper Saucon Township said her three elementary-age children who attend the Catholic school near Allentown are often on the bus for as long as 75 minutes, leaving the school at 2:50 p.m. and arriving home at 4:05 p.m.

What lengthens their ride on some days is a 15-minute stop at the Swain School in Allentown, Burmeister said.

The Southern Lehigh School District provides Burmeister's children's transportation, as it is required to do for children attending other schools within 10 miles of the district's borders.

The district's director of support services, Todd Bergey, indicated that the 75-minute ride time Burmeister cited is within the district's maximum allowable limit for children not attending Southern Lehigh schools, which is 90 minutes.

Picking the children up from school herself is not an option, Burmeister said, explaining that she also has a four-year-old at home.

"[In the afternoon] I'm home trying to prepare a healthy meal for my children before I get them ready for sports activities," she told the board. " It's just a long time for these small children to be on these buses."

Burmeister, who was joined by two other mothers of St. Thomas More students who live in the district, asked if a small bus might be available for all the children who attend that school.

She said she understands that additional money for bus transportation for students attending a Catholic school is probably not an option.

Board members thanked her for bringing the issue to light, but did not comment on the matter, as is their policy at meetings where issues are raised from the floor.

Patch file photo
Kate Pelham-Hambly January 17, 2014 at 03:32 PM
Personally, I think she should be grateful that a public school district provides transportation for her children to attend a private school of her choice.
Paula January 17, 2014 at 06:59 PM
OUCH!!! 75 minutes!?!?! My kids would be terribly bus sick.
jim snell January 17, 2014 at 10:15 PM
Must agree w/ Ms. Pelham-Hambly..............everyone complains about school taxes, but this is one of those mandated costs I'll never understand.
Limeport Resident January 18, 2014 at 07:09 AM
I don't understand how having a 4 year old stops her from picking up her kids. She has all day to prepare meal. If her kids are suffering, she can send them to SLSD. I hear they have good schools.
Charlene Stackhouse January 18, 2014 at 07:34 AM
St Michael the Archangel is a wonderful Catholic school that is local. Longest my daughters were ever on the bus was 30min. Why choose a Catholic school in another district when there is a quality one in Southern Lehigh?
Coco January 18, 2014 at 08:52 AM
Grateful for the bus? She pays taxes just like you and I, so that bus is their right. I think you should be grateful she sends her kids out of district. If not, that would be three more kids stuffed into what are already overcrowded classrooms in our schools!
Peter Maravitch January 18, 2014 at 09:03 AM
I agree with Charlene. Go to St. Michaels. And while on the topic of catholic schools, I respect and appreciate parents wanting their children to receive a catholic education, I did for 12 years, but want to point out a few things. It is a fact that when new teachers are seeking positions, they always apply to a public school district first. Better pay and more benefits and options. So public schools get to pick the best and brightest of the group. Not to say the catholic school teachers are not as good but this is how the system works. Second, they never have the facilities that a public school system will. Again money the controlling factor. The township is not responsible to make accommodations for you based on your choice here. They are doing what is required. Do not raise my taxes to transport your children out of the area. God is at St. Michaels also.
ashcat January 18, 2014 at 09:05 AM
Wow. Well apparently not only does she have a 4 year old, who apparently cannot stand car rides, but driving to her personally chosen private school would prevent her from making a healthy meal at 2:50 in the afternoon. It is a privilege on both accounts--to be able to attend a private school and have public tax-paid transportation provided (I know--she pays taxes too). Sorry the ride is so long. Maybe she could hire a chauffeur. Or carpool with the other complaining families.
srodham69 January 18, 2014 at 09:36 AM
This is the mandated nonsense that constrains school budgets. This should be changed to say that a student must be transported to a private school within the district boundaries. There IS a Catholic school in SLehigh. This is not about sending a kid to a Catholc school, its about the status of sending the kid to THE Catholic school. And if that's your value, handle it yourself.
Limeport Resident January 18, 2014 at 02:18 PM
It could also be the status of giving your children the best education possible. St Thomas More has a reputation of being a great school. Parishioners pay thousands to build the school and staff it as do parents pay who pay more for a house to live in the parish. I imagine the cost is high. However, the parents should have known about the 90 minute time rule. If the better education is worth the 2-3 hours loss of time for her kids then so be it. If you want preferred status, set up a car pool or hire someone to transport the kids. The value of giving the best opportunity to succeed to your kids is to be applauded. Sending them to a catholic school and let the kids fend for themselves is value for losers who think mandates to transport kids are wrong.
sunshine January 18, 2014 at 06:06 PM
I was just watching something on TV the other night that a woman drives her son to a private christian school two hours 1 way from her home in the morning and then back again EVERY evening. I do realize that she pays taxes - but sorry, this just comes off as spoiled and rotten. Picking your kid up is NOT an option because you have a 4 year old???? 4 is not an infant and I have a 4 year old - - - if I was that concerned about the bus ride I'd be driving my kids. End of story. Get over yourself. If you are fortunate enough to not have to work and are still complaining.... *smh* This is the problem with our society. Everyone is entitled.

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