By Todd Quinones
BRISTOL TWP, Pa. (CBS) — Facing a $12 million deficit, the Bristol Township School District cut where it could, taking aim at transportation and cutting more than $2 million out of its bus service.
Complaints of overcrowding and dangerous conditions on school buses have since spread like wildfire.
On Facebook, there are two different parent groups that have formed, and complaints about busing are common.
Devon Norris said on one occasion, her 8-year-old son struggled to find a seat.
“I don’t think they should put our kids’ lives in jeopardy for saving some money,” Norris said.
At a Bristol Township School District meeting on Monday night, parents talked about what their kids have seen since the school year started.
“Kids sitting on other kids’ laps, standing in the aisle ways and on the steps by the door,” parent Tom Barton explained.
“Buses are more crowded than they’ve ever been in my tenure. I don’t think they are overcrowded,” said Sam Lee, the district superintendent.
Lee said the private company running the buses knows it’s illegal for buses that have more kids than seats to operate, and when that happens, a second bus must be called for backup.
Lee admitted kinks to the newer and cheaper bus service have to be ironed out.
“We just can’t afford currently the level of service our township residents and families have been used to,” he said.
Parents of special needs children also say the cuts have gone too far. Teresa Barlow’s son is severely autistic.
“The first two days of school, he had no bus even show up,” Barlow said.
The school board argues cuts to transportation are a better alternative to cuts to education services.