'It's not worth it'

Sherry Martell
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Parents feel school board is putting lives at risk after second bus mishap in two weeks

'It's not worth it'

TATAMAGOUCHE - Two school buses have left roads in the Chignecto-Central Regional School Board's (CCRSB) district in as many weeks, leaving some parents gravely concerned about their children's safety.
At about 7:45 a.m. on Tuesday a bus carrying 13 students on the snow-covered, gravelled Miller Road off the Lake Road, near Tatamagouche, got stuck in snow when one wheel slipped into a ditch.
"The roads are terrible," said a grandmother of one the students on the bus, who asked not to be named. "Because there is no snow in Truro we have to be treated the same way the school board treats Truro and it's not right."
None of the students were injured and after about a 45-minute wait another bus arrived to take them to school.
While some parents believe it was not safe to have buses travelling on snowy roads Tuesday morning, Carolyn Pierce, spokeswoman for CCRSB, said a decision to open school was made before 6 a.m. based on a variety of sources of information.
She said determining a cancellation is a team effort combining information collected from a private weather forecaster, along with other weather forecasts, provincial road condition reports and current weather conditions.
"We also have staff all around our school board that get in vehicles and drive around on roads in their areas," said Pierce.
She said the forecast on Tuesday morning called for five centimeters of snow and winds of 30 kilometres, and was compared to forecasts for both Pugwash and Caribou.
"Today the government road reports indicated they were snow-covered passable with caution," said the spokeswoman. "That is not unusual. It is the same as yesterday. The drivers that went out on the roads today raised no concerns with driving conditions."
She also said they consider a variety of geographic areas within the district when determining school
closures.
Tatamagouche mother Kelly Tucker feels the board is making poor decisions, forcing parents to choose between their children's safety and education.
Tucker kept her elementary school-aged son home Tuesday based on her own assessment of poor road conditions and warnings from other parents who had travelled barely passable roads on their way to work. However, her daughter in Grade 11 felt she had to go to hand in a French project due that day, not wanting to risk repercussions of not having it in on time.
"We could have lost kids this morning," said Tucker. "It's not worth it to keep school open.
"The school board is putting our children's lives at risk and they obviously don't care about our kids. There is more than the all mighty buck to consider here. Something has to be done."
She feels there are at least four days which the board has risked children's lives this year by opening schools in bad weather.
"Our primary concern is the safety of our students when they are traveling on our busses, we share that with parents and we also have to balance that with delivering education. Our concerns are their concerns," Pierce said.
North Shore CCRSB representative Margie Nicholson said, while she is not a part of the team determining school closures, she welcomes parents to express their concerns to her so she can share them with the
board.

smartell@trurodaily.com

Organizations: Central Regional School Board

Geographic location: TATAMAGOUCHE, Truro, Chignecto Miller Road Lake Road

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Recent comments

  • Aurora
    March 01, 2010 - 14:40

    Obviously, when school is cancelled you don't have a choice, but when you look out your window or walk to the bus stop and so on, you as the parent have the right to keep your child home if you do not feel the condition is safe to send them on a bus.

    The mother in the story was quoted as saying that the school board is putting our children's lives at risk If you truely felt that strongly about the child's life, why did you let a project have more priority? It should not have. If I had that gut instinct and thought for even a fraction of a second that putting my kid on the bus might be a dangerous thing to do, it would be a case of saying project be darned, followed by a call to the school letting them know my kid wouldn't be there because the roads are not safe, then a follow up discussion with the teacher who assigned the project, if that was necessary.

    The school board decides if the school closes, but parent's can always make the opposite decision for your own family based on what greets you when you open the door to hug 'em and send them off for the day.

  • Tasman
    March 01, 2010 - 14:40

    It is after all at anytime your job as a parent to determine what is safe and what is not for your child. If you feel the conditions are such that they should not be on a bus or going to school at all keep them home. Don't let other people make decisions for you and don't blame them if you think it is the wrong one. When it comes to your children they are your responsibility don't give that job to some stranger.

  • al
    March 01, 2010 - 14:40

    when all is said and done, it's the PARENTS CHOICE weather or not to send their kids to school NOT the school board. I have no problem keeping mine home if i FEEL the roads are too bad.

  • Tough Guy
    March 01, 2010 - 14:40

    First off, we live in Canada, and in a snowy part of Canada to boot, so learn how to drive, get a 4-wheel or all wheel drive and some winter tires, that way you wont be stuck inside all day because of 15cm of snow.

    Second off, take a look at the picture associated with this story. I wouldnt say that was a major wipe-out, and had it just been a car and not a bus you would just push it back on the road and keep going.

    Thirdly, if you live outside of town and cant get to school because of the snow, then its not the school board thats making you decide between education and safety, youve already made that decision. You also chose to live farther from the hospital as well, thats not the doctors fault is it? Enjoy your lower taxes and fresh country air in the summer, but dont come in here telling everyone to shut the schools down because its snowing too hard in your little piece of paradise other people forked out the coin so they wouldnt have to deal with the exact situation youre in.

  • Stewie
    March 01, 2010 - 14:40

    Well, no offense to people that live on back roads, but cancelling school when 95% of the roads are fine is not a fair decision. I think that you are well within your rights to keep your kids home if the road conditions in your area are bad, but cancelling school for everyone in these circumstances just isn;t right.

  • carol
    March 01, 2010 - 14:40

    If they have people driving around to check road conditions, they must have been driving around where there was no snow.. the roads were treacherous, The school board is going to wait until something happens and then say we should have cancelled school. I feel bad for all those bus drivers out there, that are forced out on the roads and the pressure to get the kids to and from school safely.

  • 2cents
    March 01, 2010 - 14:40

    J.J...not sure if you know this or not but the entire school staff has to work on in-service days! Please tell me where vacation falls under that??????? Unless you've worked in a school and actually see what does go on during those days perhaps it's best if you know your facts before posting.

    As for the cancellation..or there lack of....the board is d@mned if they do..d@mned if they don't (this time last year everyone was up in arms over the amount of cancellations). That being said..every parent has the right to keep their child home should they feel the conditions are unsafe for their child...it's that simple.

  • Kelly
    March 01, 2010 - 14:39

    Great comments. Another thought. How about school starting an hour or two later on a storm morning. At least let the ploughs do there job. Get roads in better conditions. That way roads could be asssest better. I feel for the bus drivers, and all school staff out there. It's a big responsibility .

  • Guy
    March 01, 2010 - 14:39

    People complain if the schools are closed too much in a year. They complain if its left open on a snowy day. I agree that schools should have been cancelled in that last winter storm, but put yourself in the place of the people making the decision at 5:30 am. They take crap from both sides anyway, so who should they try to please.

    Of course when it comes to safety of school kids, it would surely be better to err on the side of caution.

  • JJ
    March 01, 2010 - 14:39

    The parents expressing concern over the schools not being closed are right. The roads were extremely dangerous and the children should not have been on them. The school board has no problem closing for the so called In Services , which is a glorified word for vacation. The School Board office in Truro should be contacting our representative, Margie Nicholson or another designate as to how the roads are. Also, if you made your teachers who travel to Tatamagouche from outside areas drive on those roads, then you are putting their lives at risk as well.

  • Larry
    March 01, 2010 - 14:39

    Don't you think we should look at the bus drivers? Weather conditions were far worse and there wasn't as much plow gear around in my day but we never missed any time. The bus drivers then knew how to put chains on and even asked us older kids to help them out. Heaven forbid something like that would happen nowadays, social services would probably drag the driver away. It's not the conditions, it's the drivers.

  • Road Warrior
    March 01, 2010 - 14:39

    ok I'm going to weigh in on this one.. I drive a one ton truck for a living. I have taken several driving courses. I know how to drive in all kinds of weather and conditions and adapt to those changing conditions. So does my partner who has been driving trucks for 30 years... We had a route yesterday morning that took us from Truro to Tatamagouche and through to Wentworth. On the way to Tatamagouche the road conditions deterioted quickly... my partner commented about there not being school, when we met a school bus full of kids not 5 minutes later he was quite surprised. In my own opinion and in his there was no way there should have been school in those areas. When we went by this bus, his only comment was What's the point of taking the risk? The roads were great in Truro yesterday but out that way they were not fit for the school board to say in any way that they were passable with caution.

  • chief wiggan
    March 01, 2010 - 14:39

    maybe the goverment should have more plows on the roads !!!!!!!!!!!

  • Kim
    March 01, 2010 - 14:39

    Larry from Red Deer should be ashamed of himself. You have no idea what bus drivers go through with screaming kids in the bus who have no respect for the driver or the conditions of the road. Bus drivers have to deal with those kids plus drive in snowy , icy conditions. The bus driver in this circumstance is a great person and a great driver. He kept these kids safe and no one is blaming him.

    As for Stewie-even the paved roads in this area were in no condition for the bus to be on so you can't blame the back roads for this either.

  • Sarah
    March 01, 2010 - 14:39

    Finally you interview a responsible parent, Ms. Tucker, how decides her own judgement about the road conditions trumps the school boards decision, unlike the woman in a related article a week or 2 back involving a bus that went off the road in Onslow.
    That woman was quoted crying over the poor road condions and she still stuck her kid on the bus!
    The school board can't make all the right decisions all the time so surely these parents can make the dicision themselves and refuse to sent their kids. And if the weather is that poor, teachers have no right to penalise any late projects, etc.

  • Kate
    March 01, 2010 - 14:39

    On my way to work at 4am the morning of this incident, I drove by the highway shed to see if the plows were out because the roads were such a mess. All the plow trucks were out but the grader was parked inside. it is the grader that is responsible for plowing the Lake Road, which is the road the bus went off.

    If the grader had been out with all the other plow trucks that night the Lake Road would have been plowed. The bus wouldn't have gone off the road. The grader arrived on the scene that morning at 8am, 15 minutes after the bus went off the road. Too little too late if you ask me.

    The Dept of Transportation's policy of plowing roads 24 hours after a storm is ridiculous if the machinery that we the tax payers have paid for is sitting idle, while people are trying to drive to work and the buses are trying to get our kids to school. Yes, this is a gravel road but it is a main road because it connects Wentworth to Tatamagouche and gets quite a bit of traffic daily not just from residents of that road but people traveling from Springhill, Oxford, Westchester, Wentworth and places beyond .
    The employees who plow this road get to sit home getting a full paycheck while people are taking chances with their kids on a bus because living on a gravel road is an excuse now not to plow it.
    If the employees of the DOT are being paid to sit home on call the least they could do is come to work when it snows.

  • Mom
    March 01, 2010 - 14:39

    I judge the road conditions myself... if I think the roads are too bad I keep my kids home.

  • Alex
    March 01, 2010 - 14:39

    The school board has their own scanners with The snow plow drivers. At around 5 am, you will hear the school board on with the snow plow drivers. SO, dont be blaming this all on the school board. Snow plow drivers think busses can go where snow plows can. WRONG! All snow plows are tandems. which mean they all have 2 sets of wheels at the back, So you start spinning, and you just flick a button and it puts it into 4wd. This morning on my boss, we went to turn, and we were just about stuck, because the school board got winter tires on the bus. SO, who is it to blame? The school board or Department of Transportation?

  • Christopher
    March 01, 2010 - 14:39

    One of the key issues is the culture of the decision making process and that has to be clearly to err on the side of caution. This is missing so far this year as noted when children have been sent to school in conditions that were clearly too dangerous. Snow covered, passable with caution should equal cancellation, not hey let's roll the dice and send them . Children, staff and other drivers are all put at risk when trying to stop for a waiting bus in near white-out conditions on snow covered roads. Better to endure the mild criticism when the weather does not deteriorate than put the children, staff and the travelling public in danger.