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Vote: Should D122 Change its Busing Schedules?

One of the biggest concerns for District 122 parents this year was the change to bus schedules, and on Thursday the Board of Education will review the impact of potentially reverting back to old pickup times.

One of the biggest concerns for District 122 parents this year , and on Thursday the Board of Education will review the impact of potentially reverting back to old pickup times.

Last year, the school board changed bus times that allowed the district to cut 16 drivers and 19 buses, saving about $372,000 to help reduce the district's budget deficit. It moved the drop-off times for grades 4-6 to 7:30 a.m., junior high and morning kindergarten at 8:20 and grades 1-3 at 9:10.

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These moves concerned some parents who thought the start time was too early for younger kids, and they said they would also need to make new after-school plans because junior high students were still in class.

Board President Nick DiSandro asked administrators to review various options and their financial implications, and the board will discuss them at its Thursday meeting. At that time, the board will also determine the best way to get parent input.

Parent Survey

One method for input that's already been used is a survey that was administered during parent-teacher conferences this fall that included a question about transportation. District spokeswoman Jenny Zimmerman said the results are being compiled and will be reviewed by the board this week.

Supt. Mike Sass has been adament that anyone who wants to change back to the old schedules should be ready to propose where they'd make up the $372,000.

“I’d be very careful how we ask the question," Sass said in a June meeting. "We can ask, ‘Do you want X to happen?’ Well, of course. ‘But what if we do X and take away Y?’”

That was the sentiment of the question directed at parents, asking if they would still support changing the schedules if it meant cutting teachers. That rubbed some parents the wrong way, calling it a "terrible" question on New Lenox Patch's Facebook page.

"A question posed as if you didn't agree with the bus schedule then automatically you were for teacher firing and cutting school activities," one parent said on Facebook. "The school board needs to figure things out and not treat parents like they're idiots."

After the first day of school, on Facebook, with reactions that ranged from calling it "a huge struggle" to one that said "it was nice to have one-on-one time with each child."

The cuts were part of a $3.2 million budget deficit reduction plan approved last February. Thanks to a surprise surplus, the district .

The board's meeting this week is an annual strategic planning session to discuss potential changes for next year. No votes are cast, and there is no section for public comment on the agenda because this isn't a regular meeting. The board meets from 4:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday at the .

K. Little January 19, 2012 at 03:31 PM
I do hope the board and DO are reading these comments and taking to heart the frustration this community feels. I can assure you this mirrors every conversation I have with parents. Might I suggest, instead of a poorly phrased question buried in a survey, perhaps they send home a letter asking for each parent to check a box, yes or no, to the current busing schedule. Let the majority rule. If my calculations are correct, we would only need about 2% of the reserves to make the change. I think most people would be willing to bless that decision.
Parent January 19, 2012 at 04:10 PM
I do not agree with the opinoin that the board does not need to be concerned with additional daycare costs or challenges families have faced as a result of this decision. The board is comprised of elected officials. I believe as an elected official they have a duty to consider the community they serve when making any decision. New Lenox is a working class community with many families struggling in this economy. To say they don't have to be concerned about the additional burden of childcare on families is very concerning to me. As a board member I believe their job is #1 to ensure the best possible education for our children #2 to do so in a way that is representative of the community you serve. If the majority of your families are unhappy with the new bussing system, then the board is not doing their job. We are never going to make everyone happy, I agree. This is bigger than a simple excuse like that. We knew our families were not happy about this from the beginning. The alternative is absolutely not to cut teachers and programs. But, make no mistake, when this decision was approved it was no different than approving an annual fee increase that discriminated against many working parents. Many of these families have been faced with loss of jobs, periods of unemployment or at the very least cuts in pay and benefits. They have dipped into their reserves (sometimes to pay high school fees) to get through these difficult times. Maybe it's time D122 does the same.
NLMom January 19, 2012 at 05:35 PM
I wasn't talking about day to day daycare for families. Yes, I do believe when making a daily schedule they should take the working parents into consideration. I was talking about when they schedule the rare teacher's institute. I believe we only have 2 full day institutes during the course of the school year. I think we could do without all the half days off. We do seem to have an overabundance of those. As far as the current schedule it's a hardship on many 2 income and one income families. My 4th grader is exhausted by 6p.m. because of this schedule. When they raised the fees it was an impact to single income families too. Single income families sacrifice a lot as do working families. We are all in the same boat here. This school district and board have made it a "them against us" situation for years and it shouldn't be that way.
Michele V January 19, 2012 at 06:08 PM
My son will be in 4th grade next year and we are looking forward to the early schedule..He is up and ready and seems to just sit around and wait for the bus to come at 8:50 while his other brothers and sister already have gone to school by 8am. I hope they keep the schedule, it cuts costs and not a really big inconvenience. Plus, there are SO many after school activities that he will be able to participate in, we are excited!
juliebel January 19, 2012 at 06:10 PM
I have kids in 4 different schools and yes, my day is chopped up but I don't see that as something the school district should have to consider. My personal schedule is not something the district should have to worry about. I'd rather keep the schedule as it is now. The goal is to educate our children. Whether or not the parents day is chopped up should not be the responsibility of the district. If your child is tired in the morning from getting up so early then put them to bed earlier. I have kids at Trail, Pointe, Crossing and Martino and we are adapting fine. My child that gets on the earliest bus has time to do homework in a quiet house after school before after school activities kick in. And it is not the responsibility of the district to make sure older kids are at home before younger ones to babysit!!!
Michele V January 19, 2012 at 06:11 PM
I don't think that would work. I don't even know if that is legal..I am wondering are the St. Jude kids still able to receive the bus transportation for free? Maybe THAT is where the cuts should be made. I have 1 child in NLSD and 2 in Montessori (private) and we don't received bus service.. THAT doesn't seem fair that St. Jude does or did if this has stopped
Michele V January 19, 2012 at 06:13 PM
You're right you can't make everyone happy. I have to drop off my preschoolers in Lemont by 8:20 come back home so my 3rd grader can catch the bus by 8:45.. We can't wait 'til next year when (hopefully) he will be catching the bus earlier. :)
Michele V January 19, 2012 at 06:17 PM
You can always choose a private school or like you said move .. I chose not to send my daughter to NLSD because Kindergarten is only 2 1/2 hours and I can't even work part time with that so i choose a private school ($8,000 a year) but it's full day and I can work. Also, if you want to work and you have to put your kids in a "daycare" that is tax deductible, just so you know and have options.
Jackie montes January 19, 2012 at 06:18 PM
I am not trying to offend any stay at home mothers, I wish I could. My husband is a teacher and doesn't earn enough to allow such a privledge. The constant hour changes make it more difficult for parents who have to work. I was paying $1000 a month in childcare that is about 48% of my pay. It is only temp so I deal with it. It is hard to hear complaints about 2-3 different start/end times and the inconvience of them. The district charges way too much to even attend school,then the cost of supplies and all the classrooms in kindergarten is rediculous. The district doesn't pay our teachers enough. I know this because my husband interviewed with it and earns $15,000 more a year someplace else. I don't have the answers to the problems we have, it seems to me the resources are there, just not being used properly.
Jackie montes January 19, 2012 at 06:19 PM
Well said!
Skippy January 19, 2012 at 06:21 PM
Dr Sass has also made comments in defense of the bus timing (why the youngest students start the latest, etc), saying that older students should not be responsible for watching their younger siblings, they should be outside or doing extracurricular activities. That's a nice idea, but when my 7 year-old isn't getting off the bus until 4:10pm and goes to bed at 8pm (which is an average bedtime for that age), how do you fit in the activities for that child or a sibling, schoolwork, dinner, bathing, and just some downtime for play in under 4 hours? Also, like a lot of younger children, my child wakes up around 6-6:30am. By the time school starts, he has already been up and active for almost 3 hours! Seems like physically the preteens could use the extra sleep and the youngest students could take advantage of their early wake-up times. I seriously question how much learning is taking place in the last hour or two of school when the kids are already exhausted (not saying I would want a shorter day, just one more in-tune to the natural sleep and wake cycles of most children). I also think the day is too choppy when you have students in different levels and it is creating a lot of problems that our well-paid school administrators should be trying to fix.
Michele V January 19, 2012 at 06:47 PM
I am sending my daughter to a full day private kindergarten because I really don't think the 2 1/2 hours at NLSD will prepare her for 1st grade. I think she would socially love it with gym, library, and recess but I am concerned about reading, writing, and spelling. I know it's not an option but I would love a 3/4 day like 9am to 1pm would be perfect
NLMom2 January 19, 2012 at 07:11 PM
Dr. Sass is simply passing the financial burden on to parents. My family pays 3x the property taxes we paid in Wisconsin and we pay twice the school fees. I now pay around $700 to register two small children for school and then get the first fundraiser the first week of school. Now, I have to rebudget my household to account for the extra daycare for a 3rd grader in Haines and a 4th grader in Oakview. On half days of school, the 4th grader needs to come home at 10:30 in the morning. LOL! Maybe, we should be looking into Sass' salary and benefits package as one of the highest paid administrators in IL. There is absolutely no common sense or consideration for families placed in the bussing decision. That is why it was so quiet and kept under cover until the last minute. They knew they were delivering a sucker punch to working families.
NLMom2 January 19, 2012 at 07:16 PM
It must be nice not to have the budgetary concerns and stress of juggling a work schedule. A little empathy though towards these families might be considerate though.
Michael Sewall (Editor) January 19, 2012 at 07:19 PM
Thanks for your comments, everyone. Make sure to check THIS LINK: http://newlenox.patch.com/articles/live-blog-d122-strategic-plan-meeting later tonight for live updates from the board meeting. I'm trying something new tonight and the best way it'll work is with your interaction!
traci January 19, 2012 at 07:50 PM
I think Dr. Sass should look at his pay stub!! We have one of the highest registration fees around and our taxes are a joke. If the people making the "big" bucks can't figure out how to form a budget and a bus schedule that works in the best interest of the kids we have more problems then we even know. Why is it in this struggling school district do we still have 2 superintendent's with PhD's?? Dr. Manville could easly handle it solo. That would save big money.
NLMom January 19, 2012 at 09:32 PM
Here's $107,000 right here to save towards busing. Let's not pay someone who stepped down from his position as principal a principal's salary. What is he doing in the district office that justifies that salary? It's a valid question. Where did the district get the money for another principal for Liberty when that former principal still has his salary and is doing whatever at the district office? Why can they find money for that kind of stuff?
Kellie Hoge January 19, 2012 at 09:44 PM
What about for the parents that can't afford childcare for their children. If the district is the one that makes the times then it is up to them to make sure the older ones are home for the younger ones. It isn't safe for 4th graders to come home to an empty house and not everyone can afford before and after school childcare or live on a one parent income!!!
juliebel January 19, 2012 at 11:07 PM
I agree. THe days off have always been there..They just back them to a holiday and it makes it seem longer.
juliebel January 19, 2012 at 11:17 PM
Who said I don't juggle a work schedule? But the mission statement for New Lenox School District 122 says nothing about educating children AND covering childcare at the same time. Why don't people take a look at Mokena? They cut EVERYTHING! I know kids that had to pay to be in STUDENT COUNCIL!!! No, it is not a perfect situation. Districts are strapped because of the State of Illinois. No one said this would be easy and work for everyone. It's tough times. However, I'm tired of hearing about not being able to afford ACES when often those same kids are in activities after school that cost $$. I think the bus times are fine. With that being said, I do think there could be more cuts from the top. And I think an explanation of the "principal switch at Liberty" situation should be explained including the salary he is getting working at the district office, if that is where he is.
Kellie Hoge January 19, 2012 at 11:27 PM
"However, I'm tired of hearing about not being able to afford ACES when often those same kids are in activities after school that cost $$." Some of us have kids that aren't in afterschool programs and can't afford ACES for our kids. The district has to do what is best for the community as a whole. Having older kids home before younger ones is the way most communities do this. When I was in grade school we had K-6th all in one building. They all started and got out at the same time. So it might work for you but doesn't work for everyone.
Michael Sewall (Editor) January 19, 2012 at 11:40 PM
Remember to check here for live updates! http://newlenox.patch.com/articles/live-blog-d122-strategic-plan-meeting
NLMom2 January 20, 2012 at 12:31 AM
The minimal cost of Aces is $500 a month per family (that is if you just have one child that requires it). That is $6000 a year. Average that cost across all the families affected and you can see how the school administration has passed any and all financial burden onto working families. But, out of touch administrators and a small number of parents don't get that.
MomDonna January 20, 2012 at 03:21 AM
Omg! Exactly! Waste, Waste, Waste!! Wouldn't it be great to be receiving a Principal's salary, but you don't need to have any of the responsibilities? All the other Principals should request "filing and phone answering" positions! He should just step down with pride instead of Greed and entitlement! It's soooooo the Admin attitude to have!
MomDonna January 20, 2012 at 03:27 AM
Not the point juliebel,shouldn't the schedule get increasingly earlier to prepare for High School. Wouldn't that make more sense and furthermore it is easier as children get older to have them up and home earlier.
MomDonna January 20, 2012 at 03:37 AM
Other Districts have had to make changes and cut or charge more for certain programs. Unfortunately that is not how our Board or Admin office members work! None of the surrounding Districts went direct to schedules then Teachers. Dr Sass claims to keep cuts as far away from the students as possible, but He and His Board have ONLY affected the children! With NO regard! Ask Admin what cuts affect their office?..............
AS January 20, 2012 at 04:35 AM
Go back to old schedule. It's time to think about our children and no child in 4-6th grade, ESP. 4th should be starting school at 7:30AM.
Kellie Hoge January 20, 2012 at 04:45 AM
Agreed or coming home to an empty house at 2pm. I know so many that do though because parents can't afford afterschool care and don't get out of work that early. This ISN'T SAFE!
Fascinated1 January 21, 2012 at 12:41 AM
They definitely need to cut unnecessary spending. They tell us not to let our kids watch too much tv, yet there's a tv in every classroom. What happend to having a couple of tvs that need to be signed out and rolled from room to room? Why does every teacher have to have a projector? Why can't they write on the board? That's just part of it. There are so many things that are unnecessary luxury items that can be done without. It's time for schools to cut back by going "old school" instead of changing schedules. And yes...get rid of Sass and his inflated ego and salary.
Carrie G January 28, 2012 at 07:16 PM
Absolutely true! Kudos for being brave and stating this; now get ready to be bashed. I do not believe most of the parents can not afford care they just choose to spend there money on multiple extra curricular sports for kids. School and safety should come first!

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