Early transportation glitches fixed in school district
Expanding pre-kindergarten, sprucing up the facilities, enhancing security and safety: Hicksville Superintendent of Schools Dr. Carl Bonuso emphasized these and other good news items in a message to residents in conjunction with the start of the new school year.
The first week of school, however, did bring some setbacks as the new transportation company, Baumann & Sons Buses, experienced delays in picking up and dropping off students. Parents were even reported as stating that in some places, the buses did not show up at all.
Baumann won the bid last year to transport the students, saving the district what Bonuso said was about $1 million. Baumann replaced Hicksville-based Educational Bus Transportation, which had the bus contract for decades.
“The district had the schematics from the previous transportation company, but did implement a new routing software this year,” Bonuso told the News. “The district works with the transportation company to decide where buses should be. Approximately 4,000 students are transported to our public schools as well as private and parochial schools and out of district vocational school sites and Special Education placements.
“The first few days of school in any district can often be challenging,” Bonuso added. “We thank all those who have worked so hard to resolve any concerns and truly appreciate the understanding and cooperation of the community.”
Bonuso said that two robo calls/e-mails were made and sent out in an effort to keep residents informed and assure them of ongoing efforts to resolve the issues and alleviate concerns.
“We noted that to help mitigate the issues the bus company has sent several members of its team to supervise the runs and review the routes,” Bonuso related. “Additionally, many district administrators, myself included, were riding the buses to observe firsthand where we needed to make adjustments.”
Bonuso thanked Facility and Operations head Dave Bell and his staff for preparing the schools for the new year, including roof work at Burns Avenue Elementary School, gas conversions at Old Country Road and Dutch Lane schools, asphalt work and painting throughout.
“The Woodland Elementary School had its gym roof replaced,” Bonuso noted. “It looks like a brand new gym, looks fabulous.”
The superintendent added, “Our aim is to protect our taxpayer investment in our facilities, and provide the students with the instructional and safe facilities they need and deserve.”
Bonuso also said that the district had implemented “installation of security lockdown systems and secure door access controls and ID badges and buzz-in systems” at all of its schools.
External and internal security cameras have been added, as well.
Bonuso said that nearly three dozen teachers had been hired by the district, including 16 probationary ones, seven part-timers and seven as replacements for retiring faculty. The district hosted a reception for its newest faculty members on the patio of the Hicksville High School and featured musical selections by orchestra teacher Amy Noll and her students.
With members of the board of education in attendance, Assistant Superintendent for Personnel Rosemarie Coletti individually announced the names of the new teachers, each of whom received a Hicksville Public School District pin. Bonuso encouraged the new teachers to make their marks, and to continue doing their best to help students realize their dreams.
As part of their celebration of Constitution Day on Sept. 16, students at Dutch Lane Elementary School participated in “Pledge Across America.”
The patriotic schoolwide ceremony, designed to teach students the significance of the words of the Pledge of Allegiance, featured pre-kindergartners planting American flags outside the school and fifth-graders presenting analyses about each of the national anthem’s components. Students recited the Pledge of Allegiance together, and learned about the importance of honoring and celebrating America.
—Additional information provided by the Hicksville School District