By MIRANDA BAINES
THE DAILY SOUTHERNER
School buses arrived on the campus of North East Carolina Prep School (NECP) Tuesday afternoon. Bus drivers will transport 250 students to school Monday morning for the first time.
“It provides access to the school for students whose parents cannot provide transportation,” said Diane LeFiles, director of communications for NECP. “It also will cut down on traffic coming in and out of the building during departure and arrival times.”
NECP has five school buses and five bus drivers, three of whom were already employees of the school and two of whom are newly-employed part-time drivers. The drivers all have a Commercial Driver’s License and meet the requirements to drive a school bus, including undergoing a criminal background check.
LeFiles said providing bus transportation to students was always a goal of NECP. In its second year of operation, the school is fulfilling that goal.
“We have to look at transportation like a traditional public school because of our enrollment projections. In order to reach our enrollment numbers, we have to provide that service,” said Taro Knight, director of community relations/ middle school/ operations for NECP. The school’s projected enrollment in its charter is 2,200 students.
He said charter schools are not required to provide bus transportation and do not receive funding for that service, but the board of directors and staff of NECP believe that children who need bus transportation to school have “every right to have a public school choice” and attend the charter school.
NECP purchased the school buses from Gregory Poole, an equipment company out of Garner. Three of the buses are used and two are on loan to NECP temporarily until the two new buses being built for the school are complete, in October.
The school will have five bus routes – one going to Halifax County, one going to Nash County, one going to Pitt County, and the other making several local stops in Tarboro and Princeville.
“Our buses are going to go to central locations for pick up,” LeFiles said. “We’re not providing door-to-door pickup, because our population is so spread out.”
Busing is limited and parents are required to apply for their children to ride a school bus. Children riding the bus will receive information on bus routes at NECP’s back-to-school day Thursday. While the buses will cut down on traffic at NECP and a new turning lane on Howard Avenue Extension will help with the flow of traffic, the school asks parents to do their part to help avoid traffic congestion, as well.
“We’re asking our parents to continue carpooling as much as possible,” LeFiles said.
The school buses will be on the road beginning Monday and motorists should be cautious and aware of traffic laws. On a two-lane roadway, a two-lane roadway and a two-lane roadway with a center turning lane, all traffic from both directions must stop when a school bus stops for passengers, according to the North Carolina Department of Transportation Division of Motor Vehicles. On a divided highway of four lanes or more with a median separation and a roadway of four lanes or more with a center turning lane, only traffic following the school bus must stop.