CORNER BROOK Getting her son to school every day is a constant worry for Pam House, and it’s all because of where she lives.
House is a resident of Farm Road in Gillams and, as of now, the road is not serviced by a school bus. Instead, the children of the road have to travel about 1.5 kilometres out to a bus stop on the town’s main road.
It’s a distance parents feel is too far for their children to walk.
“Especially when it’s bad weather,” said House, adding that on a fine, sunny day it’s OK to walk.
“But when you got cold winter days when it’s blowing a bit, it’s not nice.”
Instead, many parents drive their children to and from the bus stop. But that’s not an option for House. She doesn’t drive and her husband Rodney works in the Yukon.
“When my husband is away at work, I’ve got to depend on somebody else,” she said.
Ever since Brady, who’s now 12, started school House has had to come up with a plan to get him to the bus stop each day.
“We’ve got a situation worked out with my neighbour that, when my husband is gone, she takes our kids and when he’s home he takes our kids,” said House. “Sometimes it’s OK and sometimes it’s not.”
If the neighbour’s child doesn’t go to school then she has to find Brady another ride.
House has family on the road and other neighbours who help out, but she said it isn’t easy. People have different schedules and she doesn’t like having to depend on others all the time.
“Some times I am stuck,” said House, and that has meant keeping Brady home a couple times.
House’s situation is not unique. She said there are others on the road in the same boat as she is, families with only one vehicle and with parents who work outside the community. In many cases, House said, parents leave for work before their children leave for school.
Like most of the other parents along the road, House thought things would improve this year. Parents were of the understanding that the Newfoundland and Labrador English School District would put a bus stop on Farm Road if the town made some improvements to it.
Parents helped to clear brush along the sides of the road and the town hired a contractor to take out some blind turns and put in a turnaround for the bus. But it wasn’t enough to satisfy the school district, which asked for further work to be done there.
“We can’t get ahead with this at all,” said House. “It’s like one step ahead, two steps back.”
The school district was contacted to comment on the issue, but so far has only provided emailed responses. On Friday it said officials with the district spoke with the town and understand a contractor has been engaged to make modifications to the road.
“Once this work is complete NLESD officials will assess the road to ensure it is safe and appropriate for student bus travel,” said the email. “If it meets the requirements put forth to the town by the district to ensure student safety we will be able to commence bus service to Farm Road.