Students, parents and teachers are voicing their concerns about possible changes to school bus routes and start times. More than fifteen people spoke during a regular board meeting. Unit 5 Superintendent Mark Daniel says the budget situation is forcing them to make changes.
“People like the current schedule, it’s just we can’t keep doing it.”
The unit is facing a $1.3 million structural deficit and is hoping to cut costs. The transportation committee proposed a preliminary strategy Tuesday night, examining the effects of cutting 10 bus routes and moving start times later for high schoolers and earlier for elementary and junior high students.
The committee made start time recommendations based on research that shows that high schoolers who start later in the day learn better. Another goal is to reduce the number of times buses have to go out.
One concern raised involves parents who rely on older children to watch their younger siblings. Families are worried that they would have to bear the cost of after school programs or daycare to make up for the gap between when high schoolers get home and when other students get home.
Other concerns include high school students that have to manage jobs along with class times and parents not being able to spend family time with their children. School board members brought up those and other concerns during the meeting. Daniel says this is still a difficult decision.
“I think we have some homework to do and we have some different thoughts so we’ll pull that together and present that to our board.”
The committee is looking to have a final proposal approved before the unit’s spring break.
Near the end of the meeting, school Board Vice President Denise Schuster announced that she will be leaving the board after two years of service.
Schuster says she has enjoyed getting to work with a diverse group.
“We have such a great collaborative board who works well together. That doesn’t mean we always agree, but it means that we respect each other and are willing to listen to all of those viewpoints to come to what’s best for the district.”
Schuster’s official resignation will come later this month.