The school year in New Haven began on Thursday with 21,500 students heading back to the classrooms. But while many are excited, some parents are frustrated due to the recent changes to the school district’s busing routes.
Students from Kindergarten through eighth grade now do not get bused if they live within a half a mile from the school. For high school students, the cutoff is 1.5 miles.
Even the distance getting to a bus stop changed for many families.
Corrine Smith’s 14-year-old daughter used to walk one block to the bus stop, but it was changed to six blocks.
“I know a lot of parents in New Haven are frustrated, very frustrated this morning,” Smith said. “New Haven, they need to get it together. They really do. For them to do this and I got her notice for the original bus stop two days ago.”
The Smith’s story is being echoed across the city and the superintendent has been fielding complaints from angry parents.
“I just want to say to families, I apologize profusely. This really saddens me. I relied on my operations team and the department of transportation and I was getting briefs from them every week for several months and they assured me we would not interrupt services for our families,” said Carol Birks, the superintendent of public schools in New Haven.
The superintendent said she was never told a student would have to walk up to a mile and a half to get to school.
“Given the information that was provided to me, that no student would walk more than a quarter of mile. I would never have allowed that plan to be rolled out,” Birks said.
Birks said the district plans to rectify the situation in the coming weeks and asked families to be patient.
“I take this very personally and seriously because our children deserve and our families deserve respect and a great start to the school year. So, again I apologize,” Birks said.
For parents unhappy with the new bus routes, the district says to call the Department of Transportation at (475)220-1600, fill out the form here or submit a Transportation Change Request Form at your child’s school.