Pittsfield Public Schools rev up 'Polar Express' for students who normally walk

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PITTSFIELD — With an Arctic cold snap entering its second week, children who attend city public schools will get to ride the Polar Express to classes.

The Pittsfield Public School district is making 18 bus routes serving six schools available to students who walk to and from city schools through Friday, according school Superintendent Jason "Jake" McCandless.

Students who walk to Conte, Crosby, Morningside elementary schools, both middle schools and Pittsfield High School can avail themselves of the city-run transportation system.

Further details can be found online at http://www.pittsfield.net.

"We're unique in the Berkshires with the number of walkers. On any given day 1,000 of our 5,600 students walk to school," McCandless said.

In all, McCandless noted about 2,000, or 36 percent, of the children walk or get their own rides to Pittsfield's eight elementary, two middle and two high schools.

Four winters ago, school officials instituted a busing protocol, dubbed the Polar Express, during severe cold for students ineligible for riding the bus because they live too close to the schools.

McCandless praised Assistant Superintendent of Business and Finance Kristen Behnke and school bus operations director Susan Wendling for working New Year's Day to ensure the buses, idle for 10 days, would start up on Tuesday.

Since the wind chill the past few mornings has been between minus 10 and minus 30, activating the Polar Express was a no-brainer.

"I also measure how cold it is by how much my breath creates ice on my mustache," McCandless quipped.

Dick Lindsay can be reached at rlindsay@berkshireeagle.com


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