Winslow Elementary parents 'shocked and disappointed' after transportation to after school program cut for some kids

By  | 

WINSLOW, Maine (WABI) It's a scramble in Winslow as elementary school parents received a letter last week saying the school will reduce bus services to the Alfond Youth and Community Center where many kids attend an after school program.

The Alfond Youth Center provides hundreds of kids with after school programming, including tuition-free programming for kids who qualify for free and reduced lunch.

"A lot of parents have told us that if we weren't here, there would be nowhere else for their children to go, so we're happy to offer the services we have here to the children and extend it to the families as well," said Christine Johnson, Child and Youth and Development Director for the Alfond Youth and Community Center​.

Many area schools offer students bus rides to the center after school which parents depend on, especially if they're working.​

However, parents with kids at Winslow Elementary School just found out last week from this letter the district is cutting one of buses, meaning there aren't enough spots to get all of the kids to the youth center.​

To decide who gets on the one bus, there will be a lottery the day before school starts. ​

A concerned parent talked to us off camera on the condition of anonymity about what this means for her and her kids.​

"It was shocking and disappointing, and really made a stressful situation," said the Winslow Elementary parent. "The timing is terrible. There's not many options for school care in this area outside of Alfond, and to have a week to figure out where you're going to send two kids after school, it's impossible. So if they're not on the bus and I have to miss work, am I going to lose my job? I don't know. It just puts a lot of stress on families that depend on that care."​

Winslow Superintendent of Schools Peter Thiboutot says it's due to a number of factors, most notably the budget and a bus shortage.​

"We had a very difficult budget year last year and we had to look at several areas in which to do some cost savings, and we tried to take some out of several areas rather than just impact one area," said Thiboutot. "So the intent here was to continue with the run and see if we could find a way to ask parents if there's a possibility for them to transport their students to do so, so that those students that absolutely had no transportation would still have a seat on the bus -- on the one run that we can continue."​

Thiboutot says they're working on ways to try to solve the problem, but that's not enough for parents who say this is hurting them now.​

"Until they have a solution, working on it is not good enough," said a concerned parent. "It's not good enough for the families that are struggling and that aren't going to have that care. They need to figure it out now."