Mother claims Sachem busing change puts daughters at risk

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RONKONKOMA -

A mother in Ronkonkoma is claiming that a change to busing policy in Sachem School District will put her three young daughters and other children in her community at risk.

In the past, Jennifer Calamia says her children took the bus to school. But starting this year, her daughters – ages 5, 7 and 8 – will have to walk to Cayuga Elementary because the district says the girls live under a half-mile away from the school.

That means the girls will have to navigate a busy intersection known as the "five corners" on Hawkins Avenue.

"I'm not risking my kids getting hit, being hit," says Calamia. "They want us to walk along Hawkins Avenue where there's no sidewalk."

Calamia claims that eight elementary school-age children on her block lost busing. She says she expressed her concerns to the assistant superintendent and the head of transportation.

"The response I received was – having no crossing guard, having no sidewalk is not our problem," she says.

Calamia says the district should be concerned because several accidents happened on the busy Hawkins Avenue in the past few weeks, including one involving a car that slammed into a utility pole.

William Brown lives two houses west of Calamia. His 8-year-old son is the only student on the block who still gets a bus. Brown says it's not fair.

"The bus has to pass here to pick up somebody at the stop and two houses away those people don't qualify to be on the bus?" Brown says. "It's not right. It's wrong. They pay their taxes like everybody else."

The superintendent of the district told News 12 that there hasn't been a change in the transportation policy and the only way to change the policy is through a voter-approved proposition. Some parents have started a petition drive to make that happen.

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