New London schools make changes in after delay; second bus added for students at Early Childhood Center

New London - The first day of school Monday lasted longer than it should have for some preschool and kindergarten students at the district's new Early Childhood Center at Harbor School.

Though school was dismissed at 2:44 p.m., some students who relied on bus transportation did not get home until about 5:15 p.m. because there was only one bus to shuttle students to all corners of the city, the district said.

"It took up a lot of time (Monday) with the students all on one bus and having to drop them off at different points in the city," Communications Manager Julianne Hanckel said. "We will not drop off preschool and kindergarten students at the bus stop if there is not a parent or guardian there waiting for them. The bus has to continue on the route and loop back around to drop that student off."

Hanckel said about 100 students were dismissed from the childhood center on Monday afternoon, but she did not know how many took the bus home.

After Monday's snafu, the district arranged to have two buses bring students home from the childhood center: one for the southern end and one for the northern end.

"The two buses for ECC definitely alleviated the majority of the hiccups we experienced on Monday," Hanckel said late Tuesday afternoon. "We've also experienced a decline in the number of calls to central office regarding student transportation."

She said that one of the two buses leaving the ECC on Tuesday afternoon was delayed because one student who boarded the bus was not registered with the school at the time the bus stops were assigned.

The bus company gave the district the "all clear" before 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, she said.

District administrators had to deal with bus problems Monday morning, too. Though the first day of school at the new ECC was scheduled to begin at 8:10 a.m., at least one bus was late to pick students up and did not arrive at the school until after 9:30 a.m.

Miriam Taylor, a district administrator serving as interim early childhood coordinator, and Jaye Wilson, a former elementary principal who is assisting at the ECC this week, called parents to tell them the bus would be running late and assured them that the students would be fed a breakfast as soon as the bus arrived.

On Monday afternoon, Taylor and Wilson fielded calls from parents concerned that their children were not yet home from school and stayed at the school to coordinate with district officials until every student was home.

"They were there until they knew every kid was dropped off and was where they were supposed to be," Hanckel said. "Every school and every district tries to do the best it can with transportation of students, especially on the first day. We want to make sure no one is left behind and that at the end of the school day, every student gets home safely. That is our priority."

c.young@theday.com
Twitter: @ColinAYoung

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