Byram-Creative KidKare owner Anneliese Tartell only has a few more days to decide how children who attend her day care facility will arrive at their first day of school. The 2004-2005 school year is slated to begin on Sept. 7. At a Byram School Board meeting last week, Tartell was present when the legislative body informed her that the district provide transportation for fifth-through eigth-graders, as well as kindergartners, but not for students in first through fourth grade. Creative KidKare enrolls 52 children. Tarell is now trying to figure out how she is going to get her first- through fourth-graders to and from school. "I don't know if it would be cheaper to rent a van or get a bus," said Tartell in an interview last week. "I only have two weeks to figure out what I'm going to do." Both options would require Tartell to raise her rates at the daycare. According to Tartell, transportation would cost $12,600 if she were to sign a yearly contract with Byram Bus Lines. "If that happens, both myself, and the other parents will have to foot the bill," said Tartell. "I would begin charging at an hourly rate, currently, we use a sliding scale." Entering into a lease with a transportation company poses other problems. If she were to raise enrollment fees, some parents may decide to take their children out of her day care. "If that happens, we will have an unfilled bus, and that cost would need to be paid the remaining parents," said Tartell. "Then, rates would need to be raised even more." She is also considering walking the children to school to keep rates where they are. The day care is over a mile away from the Byram Schools, She said that what bothers her the most about her transportation predicament, is the fact that empty buses will drive by her business every day, and that because of regulations she can not fill the designated seats with her day care children. According to state law, a public school district in New Jersey is required to provide transportation to students living further than two miles from their school. As part of the same law, the district is required to leave a vacant seat on a bus, even if a student does not utilize his/her designated bus stop. State law does not require that a district furnish busing to students living within a two mile radius of a school. According to the School District Business Administrator Bill Bauer, the board reversed a previous decision to eliminate all busing to and from the day care as a way to help ease some of inconvenience created for parents with children enrolled in Creative KidKare. He said that the board considered seating availability, safety considerations, and established bus routes when it made the decision toprovide transportation to some of the Creative KidKare students. "This was a situation where the board did the best they could," said Bauer. "They looked at all possibilities and came up with a solution. I think that this worked out for everybody."