Wednesday, August 22, 2012

And They're Off...

I just put the wee ones on the bus.  Today, it arrived at 8:25, and the thing I'm most excited about the fact that the bus looks like it will be coming 40 minutes later to pick them up this year than it did last year?  The fact that I get to sleep in longer.

But it hasn't exactly been a smooth journey to the bus.

Technically, Mister Man isn't supposed to be allowed to ride the bus, because we petitioned him into the school Little Miss attends as part of the Spanish immersion program she's in.  I'm supposed to have to drive him - anyone who petitions is.  However, there is a bus that stops in our driveway to pick up Little Miss.  And it has three students on it, including her.  Fortunately, I was able to negotiate with the district and bus company, and he's there with a fee.

On Thursday last week, this letter arrived.

School district #fail

Ok, so great.  We're supposed to go.  Oh.  Wait.  That part is blank.  It's ok, though.  We know the bus comes to our house because we're the only stop anywhere near us.  And the bus will pick us up at... oh.  Wait.  That part is blank, too.  Hmmm.

So of course I called the bus company.  The nice woman there told me that it would probably be about the same time as it was last year.  When I pointed out that sometimes the bus picked us up at 7:40 or 7:50 and sometimes at 8:10 and that one of the children who had ridden the bus previously was no longer at the school, which would probably affect the route since he lives ten minutes away.  She investigated and let me know that they were still working on those routes and that we'd get a call that afternoon.

Monday morning, I called again, still having heard nothing.  They were still working on the schedule.  I called later in the afternoon, and we finally learned that the bus would arrive between 8:10 and 8:15.  Phew.

A side note.  In the letter, you'll notice that it says that "if your child is starting kindergarten their (sic) route information will be delivered to you under separate cover at a later date."  So all kindergartners received this letter that tells them nothing.  And they'll get another letter printed later.  That's a waste of time (printing, stuffing) and money (postage).  As a taxpayer, that irks me.  Then I discovered that not only were the children in the Spanish immersion program receiving a blank letter, but every student in the district that doesn't ride a bus for whatever reason, including all others who petitioned to schools other than their home schools - and we have a lot of walkers for our neighborhood schools - received the same letter.  So now in addition to wasting time and money by sending useless letters, you also have very confused people calling the number listed, taking up time to answer questions that should never have been stirred up and annoying people.  Government at its best.  So when they talk budget cuts next year, I'm going to request that this be there, too.  It isn't a huge difference, but it's enough.

So back to our bus story.

Yesterday, we went outside a little before 8 so I could take the obligatory first day of school pictures.  Tell me they aren't adorable.

Smiling for the camera

At 8:26, I called the bus company.  Eleven minutes past the later time the bus was supposed to pick them up?  If it wasn't close, I would need to drive them to ensure they get there on time.  The line was busy, not surprising.  After seventeen tries, I got through.  And they tracked down the bus, which was fortunately only two minutes away by that point.

The bus pulled into our driveway.  The bus driver introduced himself and confirmed that he was picking up Little Miss.  Ummm and Mister Man?  Nope, he wasn't on the list.  I sighed and explained that he should be, and the very nice bus driver wrote him down.  It isn't a huge issue on the way to school, but he can't get on the bus (and what bus route; no one would even know) if he isn't on the list for the after school bus.  So I called the contact at the district again.  And left her a message.

It wasn't the worst issue yesterday, as I was picking them up to get Mister Man to tae kwon do on time (which we were still late to, oops).  And today I'm picking them up, too.  Tomorrow, however, he needs to be on the route.  I'm still waiting for that call back.

So how has government been working for you lately?


Christina August 22, 2012 at 11:47 AM  

Ugh, what a pain. Cordy's bus was an hour late today. After 30 min, Aaron gave up and drove her to school. She would have been late otherwise. In our case, calling transportation didn't work, because the number had been disconnected. Oops!

I'm hoping it improves, although we've never had a bus that arrived on time. We have to plan for a 10-15 minute window of time every day, longer for bad weather.

Sandra August 22, 2012 at 3:05 PM  

The bus thing is from switching to a new system that allowed the district to save money. The bus schedule we had for the last three years were all the same, with the same stops and schedules. This year, the letter that came was completely off (wacko). I called the bus company and she said that everything will remain the same. Which meant the bus came at its 'normal time', which was 10 minutes earlier than what the letter said. And we haven't (nor has anyone else) received the kindergarten route info. I can see new kindergarten families just freaking out about this terrible bus route system. As if starting kindergarten isn't stressful enough for new kids and parents already.

Anyway. I'm glad it worked out that both your wee ones can ride the bus together. Hope they had a great start, and yes, they really are adorable.

Sarah S August 22, 2012 at 8:17 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown August 22, 2012 at 8:18 PM  

Wow - I can't even imagine the frustration you've experienced with this. I hope things get worked out for you soon!

Danielle August 22, 2012 at 8:22 PM  

Aww! Happy first day of school. Celebrate Momma!

Tara R. August 22, 2012 at 10:26 PM  

The Gubment and I aren't on speaking terms right now. I am glad, though, that I no longer have to worry about bus schedules.

I hope you get it all straightened out soon.

Rose @ NetWorkingWitches August 22, 2012 at 10:35 PM  

Good-Luck getting all of this straightened out.
The waste that I can share with you is that the kids on the free/reduced lunch program at our school are forced to get a tray and literally dump it in the trash. Even on days when they choose to not eat. My daughter has been choosing to not eat A LOT lately and I'm thinking of just making a surprise visit to the lunchroom one day very soon to get it all nipped in the bud.

Melisa Wells August 23, 2012 at 6:58 AM  

I don't understand why each and every year at seemingly each and every school in the country, the bus system is almost like they just threw it together the day before. I was telling Christina that our buses do the practice routes for two weeks ahead of the first day of school but they always, ALWAYS mess up for the first two weeks of school. It's so weird!!

Debbie August 23, 2012 at 7:38 AM  

Not sure I ever told you about the nightmare of Arden's after school bus ride on the first day of first grade. As it sounds like in your district, kindergarten is different. And also I had switched her academic program for first grade, there were two different buses for the two programs. She was scheduled and on the list for the proper bus and the proper program no problem. Until the bossy, b!#$%* woman running the bus line at the school (who had never met Arden by the way) insisted that she go on the old program's bus, despite Arden's own protest and the doubt of her teacher. And to the great confusion of the bus driver when she wasn't on his list but who drove her around dropping off the other kids while she tried to explain she was supposed to go to the after-school program location. But he was new, so he didn't know where that was. The administrators at the after school program called in a panic immediately after the other kids on the right bus were dropped off. I freaked out, started home from work on the train from downtown, called her dad who started driving from his job an hour away. This was six years ago, the bus driver didn't have a cell phone. Eventually he figured it out, and showed up at the after school program almost an hour later, just as her dad and I both pulled up at the facility. Nice guy, very apologetic. Wasn't his fault at all. I cried. Needless to say, I had some harsh words for the principal. But government at its best, the principal basically blew me off and I don't think the bus supervisor was even reprimanded. Arden's teacher was appalled and personally intervened for several days to make sure things went smoothly. Not to scare anyone, but that was one of the longest hours of my life, not having any idea where my six year old was.

Debbie August 23, 2012 at 7:41 AM  

On the other hand, the bus routes this year all ran smoothly and on time for the first time ever. Even though the routes were redesigned. The district contracted with a new company last year. There were some mishaps then, but I think only because they were new. They seem to really have it well organized this year.

PA August 23, 2012 at 9:10 AM  

Hope it's all straighten out by now! They look great on their first day of school pic. Hope the rest of the week has gone wel..

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