Bus commute blues

KALAHEO – Dillon St. Clair doesn’t ride the school bus. His mother is troubled by the logistics of his transportation from their home in Kalaheo to Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School. If the sixth-grader rode the bus, he would be away from home 10 hours every day. 

“It’s insane the amount of time they have to spend when they ride the bus,” Judy St. Clair said. “My plan was for my son to ride the bus, but this is insane. I do not understand.”

She wrote to the school’s vice principal, who responded by saying there were other parents who  voiced concerns before school started this year.

Parents said the bus driver’s schedule requires them to make two runs in the morning and two in the afternoon. The drivers double up to make runs first to Kalaheo, Omao, Lawai and Koloa and deliver the students to Chiefess Kamakahelei. The driver then turns around to do pick-ups in the Lihue area. 

John Robinson’s 12-year-old son, John Jr. in Kalaheo, is having difficulty getting to the bus for the pick-up at 6:25 a.m. 

“He arrives an hour early to school,” Robinson said. “And he doesn’t get home until 4:30 at night.”

Robinson said by the time John Jr. walks home from the bus stop, he usually eats a snack, takes a rest and does his homework. 

“There hasn’t been any time for him to get any exercise after school,” Robinson said.

Kauai Complex Superintendent Bill Arakaki is aware of parent concerns. 

“I am working with Student Transportation Services to review bus schedules and routes to address this situation,” he said. “I thank the parents and guardians for their patience and understanding as we work toward a solution.”

Kori Benzines’ children’s exercise has been cut short by the constraints of the bus schedule. 

“We had them doing Judo for the past two to three years, but now they get home so late on the bus that there is no time to get them to Judo class,” Benzine said.

Benzine and other Kalaheo parents are asking for separate runs to be schedule to alleviate the strain of long days.

Her sixth- and eighth-grade children need to rise at 5:30 a.m. and it’s starting to take its toll. They don’t like having to sit quietly at assigned tables in the cafeteria and bleachers in the gym waiting for the morning school bell.

“My son gets in trouble because he’s rambunctious and is going stir crazy with the long periods of time having to sit,” Benzine said. “He’s a typical pre-pubescent boy and they touch and push each other so he’s gotten in trouble misbehaving.” 

Additional wait time is necessary after school for her children and others living on the south side of the island. Again, they sit and wait for the bus ride home.

Benzine is worried about the drain on her children.

“My son went to bed at 6 o’clock last night. He was so tired from getting up early and sitting for so long,” Benzine said. “For them to get the required amount of sleep recommended by doctors, they’d have to go to bed by 7 p.m. It’s ridiculous.”

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Lisa Ann Capozzi, a features and education reporter can be reached at lcapozzi@thegardenisland.com.

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