Parents concerned about St. John Parish school bus system after Isaac

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wwltv.com

Posted on September 26, 2012 at 6:31 PM

Updated Wednesday, Sep 26 at 6:41 PM

Tania Dall / Eyewitness News
Email: tdall@wwltv.com | Twitter: @taniadall

NEW ORLEANS - Parents with kids in the Saint John Parish School system are up in arms, upset about the school bus situation after Hurricane Isaac.

Longer commute times and over crowded buses top the list of complaints. Eyewitness News spoke to school officials to find out what's being done to fix the alleged problems.

"The five-year-old is going to Garyville Magnet, my daughter is going to Laplace Elementary and my son he's going to the Adult Learning Center in Garyville," said Kristel Lewis.

"The first incident was when they put him on the wrong bus the first week of school. Granted mistakes happen but the second time they lost him for 3.5 hours," said Lewis.

Longer bus rides and overcrowded school buses are some of the other complaints being voiced by concerned parents.

"We just ask for their patience part of what we're trying to do is to help with some of the problems they expressed," said Heidi Trosclair with Saint John Parish Public Schools. Trosclair says part of the challenge is busing 700 displaced elementary school students across the parish between the St. Charles and St. James parish lines.

"Now with Lake Ponchartrain [Elementary School] and the students being dispersed to five different schools our challenge is to get them to school in a timely manner and safe manner," said Trosclair.

To cope with those challenges, St. John Parish school officials say they have added five additional school buses to its fleet. Five more were expected to arrive on Wednesday (today).

As for Lewis, she would like all her kids moved to East Saint John Elementary School because its closer to home.

"They're having an additional extra 2 hours just sitting and waiting to get home on the bus. That's too long for kids to be at a school that many hours," said Lewis.

Life is slowly returning back to normal Lewis' Laplace neighborhood and at home but the transition hasn't been an easy one. The Laplace mother's 11, 10 and 5-year-olds use to attend Lake Ponchartrain Elementary School which was badly damaged by Hurricane Isaac. Now they ride the bus to three different schools. Lewis says her first grader has had problems riding the bus since before the storm and now they are continuing.

Saint John Parish School officials also say a contractor is being hired to help streamline the school bus system and make it more efficient.

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