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UPDATE: Board to Review 'Trial' Ridge Bus Dropoff behind Cedar Hill

School now says new route will be tried on trial basis, and discussed at Feb. 13 board meeting.

As planned, school buses heading to on Wednesday morning began a new procedure of dropping students off at the rear of the in an attempt to alleviate traffic jams that are standard during school days at the high school entrance on South Finley Avenue.

However, after concerns were raised by the public, school officials now say on the Bernards Township School website that a discussion of the trial program will be held at the Feb. 13 meeting, scheduled for 7 p.m. that Monday night in the auditorium of the William Annin Middle School.

School Board president Susan Carlsson said the school administration is responsible for making decisions about bus stops and routing. The board generally leaves such decisions to professionals, she said.

However, "We will look at it now that it's become an issue," she added on Saturday morning.

The school website said, "In an effort to address the traffic congestion and safety concerns associated with the morning arrival of cars and buses to Ridge High School, the District is implementing the following change for a trial period of eight days." The website said the new procedure is thaat Ridge-bound buses are unloading students at the Cedar Hill School parking lot that borders the back of the Ridge campus.

"As a consequence there will be buses coming through the Finley Avenue side of Homestead Village en route to the Cedar Hill School parking lot between 7:00-7:30AM. Cars utilizing the Cedar Hill School parking lot to drop off high school or before care children may continue to do so at the front of Cedar Hill School."

On Feb. 13, Carlsson said the administration will publicly discuss the change in the bus routing. After that, the board will ask for comments from the public, she said.

as permitted by changes in recent state regulations, was also set for the Feb. 13 school board meeting.

There was a delay for at least one high school-bound bus on the new route last Wednesday morning. The bus was rear-ended by a car on the ramp leading north from Stonehouse Road onto South Finley Avenue. had closed off the ramp as of about 7:20 a.m.

Schools Business Administrator Nick Markarian, who was at the scene shortly after 7:30 a.m. — when the bus and its students already had departed — said students were not injured. "Everybody was fine," he said.

Township police later said the car was a Ford sedan driven by 17-year-old female who ran into the back of a school bus at the intersection of Stonehouse and South Finley. Police later said on Wednesday the driver was believed to be heading to Ridge High School as well.

Neither the car or bus driver, or any of the 15 passengers on the bus were injured, police said. The car was towed from the accident location with damage to the front of the vehicle.

The bus had waited to be cleared by the school's transportation department and by township police before it could depart from the accident location, and continue its trip to Ridge High School, Markarian said.

Meanwhile, the buses had as planned proceeded from South Finley Avenue onto the driveway heading into the Cedar Hill School on Peachtree Road. Students from the buses then were directed to walk along a paved path to the rear entrance of the high school.

School officials on Tuesday said that the change in route is seen as one way of coping with constant schoolday traffic backups during mornings along South Finley Avenue by the intersection with Lake Road. Parents dropping off students, students driving to school, staff and, apparently, some smaller school buses continued to use the main entrance to the high school off South Finley Avenue.

The high school begins its day at 7:35 a.m. Ridge High School Principal Frank Howlett said the afternoon departure from the high school will not be changed. For the full story on the explanation behind the rerouting of the high school buses in the morning,.

Note: The following poll was posted on the first day of the new bus route, Feb. 1, prior to the board's announcement that the change in dropoffs is being implemented on a trial basis.

Scott Guibord February 01, 2012 at 07:51 PM
1) Neither Valerie Goger (Superintendent) nor Frank Howlett (Principal) have any authority to re-route Ridge High School busing to the Cedar Hill School. The bus re-routing is initially a matter for the Board of Education, and any decision would first require a main road (Lake and Finley) and arterial road (Homestead Village) traffic volume, pattern and safety study, and a student safety study. 2) The re-routing of Ridge High School bus traffic to the Cedar Hill School is subject to the municipal police power of the governing body and police department, and their review (if not approval) would be required to authorize the use of the Cedar Hill School as a daily drop-off (or origination) point for non-Cedar Hill School students, for this would result in additional Municipal expenses due to the heightened traffic control and pedestrian safety measures (the only sidewalk is an isolated one on Peachtree Road). 3) Under Municipal Land Use law, schools cannot conduct uses on their premises that are not principle or accessory to that school, which simply means that the Cedar Hill School cannot serve as a delivery (or pick-up) point for Ridge High School students. The high school busing serves a wholly unrelated off-site condition at a school that has nothing to do with the Cedar Hill School. The use of the Cedar Hill site as a termination (or origination) point for Ridge High School busing through Homestead Village will require a use variance from the Board of Adjustment. Scott
Jill Faherty February 02, 2012 at 02:53 AM
It is terrible that the buses are going through Homestead Village. Buses flew by my 6th grader waiting for the bus and my younger children were woken up by the very loud roar of all the buses. This decision must be changed.

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