Pittsfield sends extra buses to spare walkers from the cold


PITTSFIELD -- It was soooooo cold Tuesday, dozens of children who normally walk to school got to ride the bus instead.

More than 100 students who are usually ineligible for busing were provided with warm transportation to and from school on Tuesday, according to city school officials. The service also will be offered Wednesday morning, as wind chills are expected to dip near minus 20 for the second straight morning.

"We thought it was cold enough to do something for the kids walking to school," said schools Superintendent Jason "Jake" McCandless. "Morningside alone had 25 kids [Tuesday morning] on the bus who didn’t have to brave the cold."

Along with Morningside, students who walk to Conte, Crosby and Egremont elementary schools, both middle schools and Pittsfield High School, which have the most walkers of the city’s 12 schools, could hop aboard the familiar yellow vehicles.

The district has been considering a contingency plan to bus "walkers" during extreme cold weather and the decision was made Monday to try the idea, according to Kristen Behnke, assistant superintendent for business and finance, who oversees busing in the district.

"I want to thank Sue Wendling, director of bus operations, the school principals, administrators and teachers who made this happen," she said.

Behnke said the strategy involved running a second wave of buses, each with an administrator or teacher on board who was familiar to the students, assuring them it was safe to board the bus. Initially, students were picked up while walking to school Tuesday morning. By Tuesday afternoon, the schools were notifying parents their children could ride the buses home and be picked up again Wednesday morning, before they started walking to school.

Officials say they will review the effectiveness of the interim plan, eventually asking the School Committee to adopt it as a permanent district policy.

To reach Dick Lindsay:


or (413) 496-6233


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