DEVENS -- Devens residents are largely pleased with the educational services from Harvard Public Schools, according to results of the fifth annual Devens educational survey.

Transportation was the only major downfall in the survey, which asked Devens parents if they felt their children were safe while riding to and from school on the bus.

Hildreth Elementary School parents had an average of 2.67 -- about halfway between an "agree" and "disagree" response. They averaged similar scores when critiquing if the bus provides efficient transportation and if the bus company has been responsive to concerns.

Meanwhile, Bromfield School parents, on average, agreed with the statements.

The Devens Educational Advisory Committee reviewed the results Tuesday, when Heather Knowles of the HES School Council announced that the bus that picks up Devens children will be dropping its additional Harvard route.

Superintendent of Schools Joseph Connelly clarified that the bus will pick up students who live on Ayer Road in Harvard, but will not do loops beyond Ayer Road and will continue on a direct route to and from Devens.

The route cut could keep the bus running on time, a problem it has had, along with behavioral issues on the bus.

Connelly explained outside the meeting that the school first started receiving complaints about the specific bus in October, after the school lost its usual bus driver when it switched bus services.


The school system then hired a bus monitor to keep a check on children's behavior.

Connelly said that he can't necessarily blame the new driver for anything, noting that the driver has done a very nice job. The district discovered the few extra loops on the route while dealing with the discipline issues on the bus, he said.

"It's not as if the buses were very, very late, but we feel that we can do a better job if we eliminated those extra loops," he said.

The anonymous comments from the survey also highlight poor bus service.

"Transportation has been a huge disappointment," reads one comment.

Another survey participant said he is still unhappy with the behavior of some children on the bus.

"It really is embarrassing to be affiliated with this!" the comment reads.

Another commenter stated that children are now used to the current driver's timing, which is usually five to 10 minutes late.

"May I know what is the actual regular timings of the bus?" the commenter asked. "Even with a monitor in the bus, my kids feel that the bus is too noisy and (are) not happy to travel in the bus."

The survey recorded responses from 74 Devens residents, of which more than 40 said they have school-aged children.

Other questions throughout the survey mostly reflect a positive experience with the Harvard school system.

Parents gave at least satisfactory scores on questions dealing with Individualized Education Programs, or IEPs, for children with special needs.

"These can be very tough areas," DEAC member Leslie Doolittle said. "I was really happy to see that everybody falls on satisfied or very satisfied."

Doolittle said she noticed a drop in satisfaction with the HES guidance services.

"It looks as though we had a couple of folks who were not satisfied," she said.

At Bromfield, too, one person marked that he was unsatisfied with the guidance counselor and department.

"But, in general, at the Bromfield, people are very happy overall with the school, the teachers, the education," Doolittle said.

Results regarding HES mirrored results from last year, she said. Overall, Bromfield definitely had a higher average, she said.

Of all respondents, 93 percent agreed that Devens students are being well served by the education contract with Harvard Public Schools.

The committee voted to recommend to MassDevelopment that Devens continue its educational agreement with Harvard.