Michael Estes, principal of West Harpswell School, has estimated that the enrollment of West Harpswell School alone might go down to 58 in two years from the present number 71, but this is only an estimate. Indeed, in the past the school population has been that small. Many good small schools have many fewer students. Then the population goes up. If we don’t have a school it will be very difficult to attract more families to Harpswell Neck. Without children, a town will quickly die.
The superintendent was quoted last week as saying the longest trips on the bus would be “down to about 50 minutes.” But when the transportation director was questioned it became evident that those farthest from the school would be “first on, last off” the bus and that those trips might often be closer to 60 minutes each way. This should open the eyes of many to the long bus rides children in our district already have to endure. The argument that other children are already suffering these long trips does not persuade anyone that more should have to do so. It calls us to examine the problem and find creative solutions so that children can arrive at school ready to learn. Two hours on a bus each day for a 5-year-old is simply unacceptable. In West Virginia they passed a law saying no elementary school child can legally travel more than 30 minutes one way on a bus without permission of the state. Worth considering.