Parents in rural Laois are angry at being faced with a lottery system for school bus seats, according to Emo Cllr Tom Mulhall.
As students face back into school at the end of the month rules mean that
“Parents are paying in advance for bus transport, but won’t know until two weeks before term whether their child has been successful in getting a seat,” said the Fine Gael councillor.
Department of Education guidelines, introduced in 2012, only guarantee seats for secondary school children who are attend the school nearest to their home.
This leaves students playing musical chairs for the remaining few seats if they want to go to another school.
“It’s a ridiculous situation where children in the same family will have different types of transport,” Cllr Mulhall said.
He says students in Rath, Emo and Killenard traditionally went to Coláiste Íosagáin secondary school in Portarlington.
While their nearest school is St Paul’s in Monasterevin, the Laois County Councillor says it cannot take all the numbers.
With not enough seats left on the Coláiste Iosagáin buses for the numbers of pupils, a lottery system decides who gets them, leaving losing parents with no choice but to find alternative transport.
“Parents are facing a worrying time. This transport is being paid by parents, and a service should be provided to all the children in an area who want to go to the same school.
“I am calling on the Department of Education to provide transport for all children,” said the councillor for the Portarlington Graigucullen Municipal District.
To be eligible for Post Primary school transport, children must live more than 4.8kms away.
The problem affects students all around Laois. In previous years, parents in south Laois wishing to send children to Heywood have been told they are only guaranteed a bus seat to Castlecomer, and Borris-in-Ossory students registered with Heywood were directed to go to Roscrea.
“There was a situation last year where a young girl couldn’t get a bus even though the bus stop was outside her house,” said Cllr Mulhall.