Lift Service To Provide More Opportunity for Students Needing Wheelchair Services
[Newark, New Jersey] September 20, 2017 – Newark Public Schools (NPS) unveiled their first wheelchair bus service for student transportation at the John F. Kennedy School yesterday. The wheelchair lift bus will allow students needing wheelchair access the ability to use district sponsored transportation to and from school. Students using the wheelchair lift bus will now have greater access to programs and services offered by NPS; including school sponsored field trips, transportation to job training, and learning life skills from community visits.
“Today is a great day for Newark Public Schools, particularly for students, parents, teachers and administrators at the JFK School,” remarked Superintendent of Schools Christopher D. Cerf. “Learning happens not only in the classroom, but also on excursions outside the classroom – the new lift bus will expand the learning opportunities for students of the JFK School. A special thank you goes to a dedicated and compassionate leader, Principal Dr. Glenda Johnson-Green, who has led a coalition of dedicated community leaders who helped us reach our goal to acquire the new wheelchair bus.”
Having a wheelchair bus has been at the top of Dr. Johnson-Green’s bucket list for many years according to school administrators. The bus provides home to school transportation for JFK students. The purchase of the wheelchair lift bus was made possible through the dedication of a number of donors and Dr. Glenda Johnson-Green, who has worked with NPS for 44 years; first as a teacher, then administrator and now principal of JFK.
“Working towards fundraising for the Lift Bus was an idea that I and community partners decided to do to impact the lives of this very specialized population,” said Dr. Johnson-Green. “We wanted each student in JFK, whether they are able bodied or in a wheelchair to be exposed to the same experiences in the community. This unveiling has been a long time coming. We appreciate the efforts of our community partners, students and staff in this endeavor.”
The JFK School is home to 167 students from 6th grade to 21 years of age. JFK students receive academics and life skills training, allowing them to be employable. Vice Principal Jill Summers-Phillips said that several graduates of the JFK School are employed there at the school; indicating that one person works in schools services and another graduate works as a locker room attendant. The sign outside of the school says, “Attend Today, Achieve Tomorrow.” Ms. Summer-Phillips said we are a special school for special people, which is why the bus is so important for our students.
Joining in the celebration were Board President Marques Aquil Lewis, Members, Josephine Garcia and Reginald Bledsoe, Freeholder Rufus Johnson, who helped to raise funds for the bus, along with Councilman Joe McCallum. Dr. Johnson-Green extended a special thank you to all of the donors; particularly Freeholder Rufus Johnson, Pastor Tilley, and Nanina’s in the Park.
According to JFK school administrators, they are currently reviewing student service needs to determine how many students will utilize the wheelchair bus lift for home to school transportation, which could result in the elimination of up to five bus routes that are currently provided by outside vendors.
In addition to the JFK Chorus, the Weequahic High School Drumline also performed to celebrate the arrival of the new wheelchair bus.