August 26, 2015

Bus route still CSPS concern

By Annette Tait
Finding themselves nearly down to the wire, Center-Stanton School Board members were forced to make decisions regarding the southwest bus route. In the past, the route served students who live south and west of the junction of ND 25 and ND 48. Having received no applications for the advertised bus driver position for that route, the board discussed options and made some tough decisions.
Superintendent Curt Pierce has been in contact with students living in the area served by the route, and has also looked at numerous ways to serve the students by revising the current routes. Unfortunately, no solid solution is available. All potential options add too much time to the existing routes to make the changes viable.
School Board Member Stacey Olander asked Pierce if there had been any complaints from people living in town about the potential to no longer offer bus transportation to city residents.
“Not yet, but it’s not the first day of school yet,” Pierce replied, noting that options that sound acceptable in theory may not always be as palatable when put into action.
Pierce told the board that, considering the first day of school is approaching, it needed to make decisions as to how to approach the potential of not having a driver when school starts. As the state provides reimbursement for a portion of district for transportation costs, the district will be required to pay parents to transport their students to school if riding the bus is no longer an option.
He provided the board with a matrix that included mileage parents would need to drive from their residences and, based on the mileage, costs to the district at several different levels of reimbursement.
The question was raised as to whether payment was for all school days, or just when students are actually driven to school. Pierce responded that reimbursement is made using the same guidelines as bus transportation, which are based on the number of school days regardless of whether the student takes advantage of the service.
Also discussed were how frequently reimbursement payments would be made to families, and how the district would proceed should a driver be hired at some point during the school year. If a driver is hired, the district will return to the system that had been in place, with five routes.
A motion was made that, should reimbursement to parents be needed, payment will be at 40 cents per mile per vehicle, with reimbursements paid quarterly, and in-town busing will be eliminated unless a fifth route driver is hired. The motion carried.

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