What People are Reading
- What a very sad and shocking
2 years 29 weeks ago
- Smart Meters
2 years 32 weeks ago
- 100 year old house burns
2 years 32 weeks ago
- Column 2-10 re Treason
2 years 41 weeks ago
- Radical Difference
2 years 42 weeks ago
- This activity is such a
2 years 50 weeks ago
- Okay Great we got a sign!
2 years 50 weeks ago
- Hate Crime a Sad Moment Indeed
3 years 2 days ago
More in News
High, elementary school buses may be combined
AREA — In an effort to address a looming budget gap, the SAD 17 school board agreed to explore the idea of combining children of all ages into a single bus run for the district.
If approved, buses would pick up children from Pre-K to high school.
Currently, the district conducts one run for middle and high school students, which ends at about 7:30 a.m., and a separate run for elementary school students.
"We average 770,000 miles a year in transporting our students to and from school," said Superintendent Rick Colpitts, who presented the idea to the board. "Every route is driven twice."
The district hopes to save about $400,000 in costs, which would help to address a massive budget gap.
"When you're talking about a district that's having to cut $1.2M to $2M, $400,000 goes a long way to saving that money without having to cut into teachers or staff that work directly with students."
Most of the savings would be realized in salary and benefits costs, which would be reduced by $285,000, and diesel expenses, which would be reduced by $62,500.
Colpitts said that circumstances have changed which make the new plan feasible.
"We have new routing software that the state has provided," said Colpitts. "We've had a new transportation director that is willing to look at things with a different lens."
Colpitts said that there are several concerns to take into consideration.
"We will likely hear of concerns from parents regarding having Pre-K kids on the bus with high school kids," said Colpitts. "We know that other districts around us have done this recently. ... We have other districts that have done it for decades. The reality of it is, there are likely to be perceptions from parents that there is a concern with this issue."
In order to move forward with the plan , the district would also need to purchase five new buses and assign five new drivers to accommodate the single, large run.
Other concerns include a loss of hours for a significant number of employees.
"We also have to acknowledge that there will be longer bus-riding times for middle school and high school students," said Colpitts. "One of the facts that we've learned is that only 50 percent of high school and middle school students are actually taking the bus."
There are currently 57 bus routes, but that number would be reduced to 34 in the new plan. Of those, six of them are currently expected to last over one hour.
Colpitts expressed a hope that fine-tuning could address some of the problem routes, one of which would result in a bus ride of one hour and 20 minutes.
Colpitts said that the district could also expect to see some added benefits beyond cost-savings.
Middle school and high school students would be able to get on the bus later in the morning, and parents with students in different age groups would be able to see them off at the same time in the morning.
Colpitts said that the district would have goals related to the program that would include schools having a similar start time, no loss of instructional time, and bus rides that would be maintained at a reasonable length of time.
While the board voted to move forward with the concept, it has not yet voted on the measure.
"This is a proposal of an idea," said Colpitts. "It is not a proposal for something that we would like to implement at this time."
Colpitts hopes to meet with stakeholders, including parents and drivers, over the coming months to talk about the feasibility of the idea.
Board members asked whether the district had considered contracting out for bus services. Colpitts and Nick DiConzo said that they had explored the idea approximately six years ago, and it didn't seem cost effective at the time.
Colpitts said that he would revisit the issue as a part of the research process.