Govt backs Kirklands on new timetables
By Rachel Scollay
At the Blue Hills School in Goonellabah, going home time has become a precision military operation, complete with walkie-talkies and all teachers needed for traffic control duties.
Office secretary Lydia Bolzicco said the number of parents picking up children had doubled since the timetable changes made by the Kirklands bus company.
In addition, there were now double the number of buses coming to the school.
"We've had to put all our teachers on bus duty to cater for the repercussions," she said. "Kids are crying because they don't know what bus to get on. They tend to panic easily."
Despite the fact school supervision doesn't start until 8.30am, one parent had dropped off her child at 7.15am yesterday because she didn't want him catching the bus, she said.
"He's a little boy, but she felt safer dropping him off directly rather than letting him go all over the place," she said.
Principal Danny Carrasco said he had about half the school arriving after 9am, with the last students arriving about 9.30am.
This was the reason behind the dramatic decrease in bus patronage, he said.
"Parents will be happy to put their kids back on the buses if they are guaranteed they will run on time," he said.
Ironically, one of the reported reasons for the timetable changes given at a school briefing in April was to increase the number of children catching buses.
Kadina High School principal Steve Lowndes attended the meeting, where he said Kirklands explained they expected teething problems, having gone through a similar process in Tamworth.
"They said they wanted more kids on buses and less being driven to school," he said.
"They felt it was to their financial advantage because, down the track, they felt they would be paid for the number of students using buses, not the number of students carrying bus passes."
Mr Lowndes said violence at the bus interchange was never mentioned at the briefing. "Why didn't they tell us?" he said.