TRENTON – Senator Jim Beach introduced legislation today that he hopes will help remove red tape when dealing with a school district transportation issue. Spurred from an incident in his district, the bill will make sure that all kids in morning kindergarten classes have access to school-provided transportation to after-school enrichment programs.
“Parents have busy lives, juggling work and family. And when their children are only in half-day kindergarten programs, they often must find alternative arrangements for care and learning in the afternoon,” said Senator Beach, D-Camden and Burlington. “Enrichment programs are a great resource for these parents, but they have to be able to get their kids there. We must not allow a loophole to prohibit a kid from extra learning or to impede a parent’s ability to send their child to appropriate after-school care.”
The bill stemmed from a recent incident in Cherry Hill where an AM kindergarten student was unable to receive transportation to an afternoon enrichment program because he resided within a one-mile perimeter from the school. His residence made him ineligible for bus service even though the enrichment program was further than a mile away and he had classmates who were being dropped off at the same program. The school has since resolved the issue, but Senator Beach wants to ensure that other parents and families do not have to fight for these services.
The bill would require that school districts that transport students in half-day morning kindergarten programs to after-school enrichment programs also provide transportation to students who may be deemed ineligible for bus transportation. The bill stipulates that transportation is dependent upon a seat on the bus being available and would require the parent or guardian to cover the cost of the transportation, unless financial hardship prohibits it.
“Legislation often comes from real-life scenarios where people are struggling to deal with red tape. This is one of those incidences and while I am thrilled that this family in Cherry Hill was able to work with the Board of Education to come to a commonsense solution, my goal is for other families to not have to worry about how they will get their kindergartners to after-school programs,” said Senator Beach.
The bill will be referenced to the Senate Education Committee.