Byram board pulling all the stops at private daycare centers

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:51

    BYRAM-With the start of the school year just a few weeks away, Byram parents whose children attend commercial daycare centers are finding themselves stranded at the school bus stop. Last year the Byram Board of Education provided roundtrip transportation to school from two local commercial daycare centers. However, starting in September, the service will no longer be available and Byram Mayor Skip Danielson is calling for the board of education to rethink the new policy. "I am concerned that they (the board of education) are not offering our citizens that service," said Danielson. "I have a hard time believing that it is a gift to Creative Kid Care when it is a paid service for and by the taxpayers. The seats are already paid for on the bus. If there are empty seats on the route it should be done." According to Byram Schools Superintendent Joe Pezak, several issues forced the district to put a halt to the service. "There were logistical issues, safety issues and financial issues," said Pezak. "We tried to accommodate parents last year but we could not come up with a suitable remedy to these problems." As Labor Day approaches and with it the start of school, parents are beginning to worry about how they are going to get their children to the bus. "Unfortunately, I am not wealthy and need to be at work by 8 a.m.," wrote Byram parent Karen Dellosso in a recent e-mail to Straus Newspapers voicing her concern over the busing issue. "My husband and I both need to work. I don't have the luxury of putting my children on the bus. What is the big deal with picking up the kids at an alternative stop?" According to Pezak the decision was not an easy one. "The board of education worked diligently and exhaustively with the two commercial venues. It was a very complicated matter. We worked through out the whole year but we had to change the policy." Since the decision to not provide service was made at the end of the last school year, the controversy now surprises Pezak. "I thought the whole matter was resolved. We tried to find a resolution but we are not going to commercial centers," he said. According to Dellosso there was no prior public notice. In fact, she found out, she said, from her daycare center. And she's not alone. The decision to exclude commercial operations came as a shock even to some town officials. "I got an e-mail from the mayor, Skip Danielson," said Dellosso. "The e-mail says: Karen, I am certainly surprised that the school has changed its position again." Dellosso is hoping that Danielson and other town council members will get involved to resolve the situation. However, the school board is an autonomous body of elected officials separate from the council. Other than expressing his opinion, Danielson said there is not much he or the council can do. "We can exercise a limited amount of influence," said Danielson. "But if these buses are going by with empty seats on them they should stop. If it costs more then that is different." As of now, children will be bused from the YMCA daycare program or from private daycare programs housed in private homes along bus routes. No commercial daycare facilities will be on the bus route. Asked if there was any chance the board will reverse its decision, Pezak said, "Every policy is subject to review." By law, the school district is not required to provide transportation to and from commercial daycare centers.