PINE BUSH — When the Pine Bush School District didn't call for a delay to the start of classes on Tuesday morning, Joanne Waterman decided to impose her own two-hour delay for her children.
The district was the only one in Orange, Sullivan and Ulster counties without a delay or closing because of snow.
Waterman, of Circleville, chose to keep her three young children off their 8:40 a.m. bus and take them to Circleville Elementary herself around 10:30 a.m., she said. That was after her daughter, a senior at Pine Bush High School, texted her that her bus was having trouble cresting the hills on Goshen Turnpike.
Waterman said her daughter also shared the chatter she heard over the bus driver’s radio system about cars veering off the road or overturning.
"My heart was in my throat,” Waterman said.
Waterman knows the district covers a large geographic area, but while roads were clear in some places, that wasn’t the case in the Town of Wallkill.
Many parents took to social media, angry over the school’s seeming lack of concern for student safety.
Superintendent Tim Mains said he understands why parents are concerned. He also stressed that, contrary to posts on social media, there were no bus accidents on Tuesday.
He spoke with parents personally and plans to use the information they gave him to improve the district's system.
Mains’ day began around 4 a.m., checking the weather in the seven townships in three counties that the district covers. The weather conditions can vary greatly across the district, he said.
Mains also relies on “checkers,” employees for First Student Bus Company who are on the roads to test conditions, and checks in with the highways departments.
Mains made a list of locations in the district where parents cited poor conditions. He plans to work with the bus company to have those areas checked in the future if they aren't already.
Mains didn't have numbers on hand, but he guessed late arrivals may have increased on Tuesday.
“I would expect that parents are going to do exactly what we do. Parents are going to err on the side of caution or the side of safety,” he said.
Waterman, who spoke with Mains herself, said she is pleased the district is being responsive but wishes the district would apologize for Tuesday's lack of a delay.