Editorial: Alternate busing options for students needs more input

Monday, November 06, 2017

Brief thoughts on some of the events making news from around Franklin County and the North Quabbin area:

We can appreciate the Greenfield Public Schools administration and School Committee trying to find savings on budget items like transportation. Doing so will help preserve the money that’s budgeted for the real work of the schools — what takes place in the classroom.

In Greenfield’s case, using available public transportation, such as that provided by the Franklin Regional Transportation Authority, might be just the ticket. But while this idea might be considered still in its infancy, the school administration should reach out to the FRTA so it can be part of the conversation.

Mayor William Martin broached the subject back in July. FRTA Administrator Tina Cote said then that while she’d be happy to see the town buy tickets for students, there wouldn’t be a change in bus routes or any additional buses unless the town kicked in money to help pay for the cost of this service.

The school system needs to find out now whether this is a realistic proposition and what kind of price tag it might carry. Greenfield knows that a bus ticket for every potential student rider — 650 students — comes to about $100,000 for the school year. But there’s much more information needed. And the sooner the district gets what it needs from the FRTA, the better the chances that we’re all not just spinning our wheels.

A different kind of fall

The weather this autumn has not exactly been what we would call a “classic” New England fall. We had less than a spectacular leaf season, and who can remember the whirl and clicking of various bugs this late in the year? It can all be blamed on the unusually warm temperatures and humidity. But that warmth also meant it wasn’t necessary to turn on the heat, something that more than a couple of homeowners could appreciate.

General Pierce troubles

Last week, drivers crossing the General Pierce Bridge between Greenfield and Montague had to deal with traffic issues caused by repair work. Unfortunately, this work was more of the same old Band-Aid approach by the state, rather than the kind of repair project it needed. We need the state to finally do the work required to get that “structurally deficient” label off the 70-plus-year-old bridge. But that kind of repair work isn’t slated to happen until 2021 (and that’s no guarantee, sadly). So the temporary closings and one-lane crossings will be an ongoing situation for a number of years to come. We’ll continue to keep our fingers crossed that nothing more serious happens in the meantime.

You go, GHS girls

We offer a tip of the runner’s cap to the Greenfield High School girls cross country team.

The Green Wave has emerged as a power in Pioneer North Division, capturing its first league title. Our Recorder colleague Jason Butynski this week wrote his column detailing how the program has developed and grown over the past five years.

It’s been a numbers game, as in getting more girls out for the team, and it’s been the kind of drive and determination that is needed not just by a cross country team, but a team in any sport.

Congratulations, these girls have left their mark.