Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Pittsburgh Schools Reverse Plan to Use City Buses Charter School Parents Had Opposed Change

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Pittsburgh Schools Reverse Plan to Use City Buses Charter School Parents Had Opposed Change

Article excerpt

Middle school students at the Environmental Charter School will continue to ride to school on yellow buses next fall rather than take public transit.

The reversal of a plan that was announced earlier this month came to light during a well-attended public hearing Monday in which many parents of Environmental Charter School students had intended to express their dissatisfaction about sending their children to the Garfield campus on Port Authority buses.

Pittsburgh Public Schools said a school bus driver shortage had prompted the district to consider using Port Authority buses to transport the students.

"My son would have to ride 52 minutes through 87 stops, transfer in Oakland, which requires him to cross busy intersections, and then walk several blocks to his school," said Shuhuei Lee, parent of an 11-year-old student.

The district will reduce the number of buses for the middle schoolers from 15 to 11 and will stagger pickup times so drivers can make multiple trips, school district spokeswoman Ebony Pugh said.

"They will have longer bus rides," up to about 90 minutes, she said, adding that a long-term solution to the driver shortage is still needed, both at Environmental Charter and across the district.

She said the district reconsidered the proposal to use Port Authority buses after recognizing that many of the students would have been required to transfer from one bus to another, something administrators try to avoid.

About 150 students will be affected, Ms. Pugh said. Across the city, about 3,500 of the district's 23,000 students get to school on public buses.

"In light of the decision that has been made, I wanted to come tonight and thank you for prioritizing student safety in transporting our students next year," parent Jeanne McHale told the board.

Eighty-two people signed up to speak on a variety of issues at Monday's public hearing.

About 15 speakers addressed a board proposal to transfer all middle school students at Pittsburgh Milliones 6-12, University Preparatory School - known to many as UPrep - to Arsenal Middle School in Lawrenceville in the upcoming school year.

The board is expected to vote on the move Wednesday.

While middle school students at U Prep have long struggled academically - with none of them scoring proficient on the PSSA test in math last year - Arsenal students have far outperformed their counterparts at other predominately black middle schools in both English language arts and math. …

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