Thursday, September 6, 2007

School starts with a long and winding road

Heading out to school
Originally uploaded by stepol

School started for both boys on Tuesday. When we got home Monday night, the boys still had a bit of work to get done on their summer assignments to get them ready to turn in the next day. polMom also did the lion's share of the prep work by labeling all of the boys' stuff and filling out the myriad of papers that the schools require ... most requiring the exact same information on each. You'd think with the advances they made with the hcpsLink system they would get this process streamlined. Instead, poor polMom's still recovering from writer's cramp.

YoungerSon is headed back to Tuckahoe Middle School for seventh grade while OlderSon travels to the other side of the county to begin ninth grade at the Center for Engineering at Highland Springs High School.

And thus begins our transportation nightmare.

Both boys left for their bus stops at about 7:30am, OlderSon slightly before and YoungerSon slightly after. OlderSon is supposed to catch a bus at 7:37am that takes him to the nearby Freeman High School transportation hub where he catches the bus for the long trip to Highland Springs. At 7:45 he calls home to say that the bus hasn't arrived but we're not too concerned as the buses are always late on the first day. Also, the transportation hub ensures that the bus to Highland Springs won't leave until the first bus has arrived.

At 8:00 OlderSon calls again to say that he's still at the bus stop. polMom gets on the phone to the transportation department (a number she is unfortunately well acquainted with). We figure we can haul him over to Freeman but want to make sure the shuttle is still there. After 20 minutes, three disconnects, and many radio calls to bus drivers we find out that the shuttle has left because OlderSon's bus did go to Freeman ... without picking him up. Apparently it was a substitute driver who failed to grab two of his route sheets.

We're very frustrated but we say we'll take him to Highland Springs ourselves. It's now just after 8:30 and school starts at 8:45. We drive up to the bus stop ... and no one is there. We're momentarily flummoxed but are hoping that he simply got on the regular Freeman bus with the other high school students. We double-check the area to make sure he's not there and head over to Freeman.

About halfway there we get a call from OlderSon who is, indeed, at Freeman and is standing with the West Zone transportation director who was very nice and helpful. They were trying to figure out how they were going to get him to Highland Springs but we said we were taking him. He directed us to drive right up the bus ramp and we could pick him up.

We picked him up and polMom dropped me off at work before heading to Highland Springs. She got OlderSon to school finally, made sure he didn't get a tardy, and reassured him that the ride home would go more smoothly because the bus would be starting from a school that it knew it had to go to.


I'm still not quite sure of all the details but the net result was that when the dust cleared after bus departures at Highland Springs, John and two other students were left standing alone ... under a tree ... not on a bus. Of course by the time polMom gets a call, the transportation office had closed so she worked her way up the org chart until she got Fred Morton, the Superintendent of Schools for the county (do not tick off polMom).

Eventually, John did make it home with assurances from every level of the transportation chain that it would not happen again. It that seems to be holding as we had no incidents yesterday or this morning.

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