Getting Answers: Westfield parent pushes for added bus stop

A viewer reached out to our newsroom and asked us to help her get answers as she tries to get a bus stop added for her child in Westfield.
Published: Nov. 14, 2022 at 4:32 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 14, 2022 at 5:46 PM EST
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WESTFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - A viewer reached out to our newsroom and asked us to help her get answers as she tries to get a bus stop added for her child in Westfield.

“Our road has sidewalks and the sidewalks end and then start again, so I’m just worried that in the wintertime, when the grass is filled with snow, and she’ll have nowhere to walk but the road, and people already speed down our street, so she’s already almost been hit by a car on her way home from school,” said Ashley Watt of Westfield.

Watt reached out to Western Mass News and asked to help get answers. The Westfield mother told us her daughter has to walk over a mile from Westfield High School every day to their home on Prospect Street Extension.

“I decided to reach out to you guys in hopes that maybe I can really advocate for her to get a bus because I just feel like it’s a huge safety concern to have her walking home in the winter and I don’t want to be at work wondering if my child got home safely from school or not,” Watt added.

Western Mass News drove the route her daughter walks home from school every day. Some parts of the street do not have a sidewalk. Watt said she has been advocating for her child to get a bus stop at their home since the beginning of the school year.

“I’ve reached out to the superintendent. I’ve reached out to Pam Katarski, who runs the transportation department, who both told me there’s nothing they can do and I’ve also reached out to the principal at Westfield High School and he also told me there’s nothing he can do,” Watt noted.

The director of transportation at Westfield Public Schools told us in a statement, in part: “At the high school level, students who reside within 2 miles of the school are considered walkers. Safety is always the number one priority when determining whether a student is deemed a walker or rider.”

We reached out to Westfield’s school superintendent, who told us parents are welcome to speak at school committee meetings during public participation as the school committee makes policy for the district. Watt said other parents in the community have expressed similar concerns to hers.

“There are a lot of parents who actually reached out to me on the Westfield forum who said they had the same issues and they were actually presented with the same answers that there’s nothing they can do for them, so I definitely know that my daughter is not the only one being affected,” Watt said.

Watt also added that there is a school bus that drives past their home everyday, but she saID they were told her daughter could not take it.

We have reached out all of the school committee members for comment and one member, Bo Sullivan, told us he has not received any information regarding this incident.