To the Editor,
As a father of four, I have taken special interest in the dealings of our school system. Yet, I was taken aback by the vague and dismissive School Board letters concerning their plans to relocate all county school buses to the New Cumberland garage. The argument of the first two letters accused the drivers of having a selfish agenda. However, the letter written by Superintendent Suzan Smith was, in my opinion, the most disturbing.
Her initial argument declared other counties doing it as proof it would be good for us. Next, she said it would be cheaper and safer, dismissing any counter-argument as ludicrous, touting indisputable substantiation, yet not giving specifics, only repeating the phrase, " other factors entered into the decision." I challenge them to publish the cost-benefit analysis and the study conducted by the Transportation Department. Do they think we are too dense to grasp bare facts without fluff? Show us exactly how a yearly increase in costs would save taxpayers. I'm merely John Q. Public. I'm not a driver, not an employee of the county. I have no selfish agenda. My interests are my children.
Concerning safety, I have problems with their logic. As a veteran of Afghanistan and Iraq, I know it's a bad idea to centralize the buses. Remember the recent bomb placements at the Weirton City Building and police station? If the buses are stored at one location they'll be vulnerable to a single attack. Leading resources through a bottleneck or pinch point is asking for trouble. In the case of emergency evacuation, a simple obstruction along Route 8 or Route 2 would shut down the main artery of travel, drastically increasing the time for a driver to get to the garage, perform the mandatory inspection, and return to Weirton to remove our kids. Where does the school plan to put our children during an emergency in the mean time? They would escort them along Pennsylvania Avenue to local churches and residences. Does that sound safe? What denomination are the churches? Have those homes cleared background checks? Are they safe enough to handle the reason for evacuation? Whether it be inclement weather, bomb threat, or a shooter scenario, the times in which we live are fraught with adverse contingencies that must be taken into consideration. Heaven forbid the emergency is at the Shippingport Nuclear Facility mentioned by Ms. Smith.
Another argument put forth was that the placement of a fuel tank for the buses at the new school would be too dangerous. If so, then why do they have one at the Vo-Tech garage? Personally, I believe we are not being told the truth. If you see a person with a petition don't just dismiss them. Ask the tough questions, ask for proof, and show your support for our kids. The truly selfish agendas are being pushed by the administration and those with their hands in the cookie jar. Speaking of which, whatever happened to the new gym for New Manchester Elementary?
K. Joseph O. Thomas