UNION, NJ – Parents of students set to attend Jefferson School in the fall are circulating a petition to garner Union parents’ concerns about the recent proposed change to the Union Board of Education transportation policy for students in grades pre-kindergarten to eighth grade for the 2019-2020 school year.
Transportation eligibility is scheduled to be amended from 1.5 miles to 2 miles. The issue is scheduled to be discussed and voted upon at Tuesday night’s Board of Education meeting.
Yesenia Aleu, parent of a Battle Hill School fourth-grader scheduled to enter Jefferson School in September, said she and other parents heard a “rumor” about a change to the transportation policy. She said her husband George Aleu and another parent, Evette Paco, requested a meeting with Superintendent Greg Tatum. According to Aleu, at that meeting Tatum assured the parents that “nothing was set in stone”.
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“I don’t think the community is aware of what’s going on,” said Aleu. “Except for this rumor, no one seems to know about this.” Aleu said she and other parents created a petition and circulated it during the recent Soccer Fest event in Union. “We put the information out there,” said Aleu. “We spoke with parents of children from all of the elementary and middle schools, and they said, ‘how can we help?’, ‘how can we make our voices heard?’”.
Aleu said she estimates there are about 250 signatures on the petition to date. Click here for access to the online petition.
Justin Ciaccio, Connecticut Farms Elementary School PTA President, said there was no mention of the possible change at a recent Jefferson School orientation for incoming students. “What bothers me is that it’s being done very quietly,” he said. “If you’re going to change the rules, you have to let people know.” Ciaccio said none of the parents of Connecticut Farms School fourth-graders, whose children will move to Jefferson in September, were aware of the change. “With the upcoming construction to the Route 22 bridge, traffic is going to be a problem. It’s not safe for our kids to walk that far to school.”
According to the policy, “for the purpose of determining eligibility for student transportation, measurement shall be made by the shortest route along public roadways or public walkways between the entrance of the student’s residence nearest such public roadway or public walkway and the nearest public entrance of the school which the student attends”. It is unclear how many students will be affected by the change from busing at 2 miles vs. 1.5 miles. The financial savings from the policy revision has not been released.
The policy says students in pre-kindergarten to fourth grade who must traverse the Route 78 overpass on Vauxhall Road shall be transported to and from their school regardless of the distance they must travel. Unchanged in the policy is the eligibility for students in grades eighth- to twelfth-grade, which remains at 2.5 miles.