School bus routes scrutinized
Clintonville board concerned about students’ travel time
By Bert Lehman
During the first reading of revisions to school transportation policies, the length of bus routes was discussed by the Clintonville School Board at its Nov. 9 meeting.
Clintonville School District Superintendent Tom O’Toole told the board that district policy states bus routes should not be more than one hour and 15 minutes.
“We have some routes that approach that, some routes that are beyond that,” O’Toole said.
O’Toole said the time it takes to complete a bus route varies daily, and the time it takes to complete a route is generally longer taking students home at night than picking them up for school in the morning.
“I think they are allotting the time it takes to get through town at the end of the day because they don’t come in sporadically like they do in the morning,” O’Toole said.
School Board President Ben Huber added that he knows there are students on some routes who only ride the bus after school.
Huber added that it has always been board policy that if the administration wanted to do something against board policy, it had to come before the board for approval.
He said based on information given to the board, there were five bus routes in the district that were longer than an hour and 15 minutes.
“I think those should specifically be brought before the board for board approval because it’s outside board policy,” Huber said. “Obviously it can’t be tonight but I think that should specifically be done.”
Huber added that if the board agreed the longer routes were acceptable, a waiver for the year would need to be approved.
O’Toole cautioned that it would be dependent on the bus company providing the district with accurate information. He said the bus company hasn’t been good at getting that information to the district.
Board member Jim Dins suggested the wording of the board policy be changed to “approximately an hour and 15 minutes.”
Huber asked how long “approximately” is?
“I think you waive the line at what’s financially responsible and reasonably close,” O’Toole said.
Lynette Edwards, business manager for the Clintonville School District, said she believed the length of bus routes are roughly the same each year.
“Lamers has done the same thing every year and they’ve gone by the guidelines and our policy,” Edwards said.
The board agreed to continue to research the matter, and have the administration research costs of shortening the longer bus routes.
O’Toole asked board members if anyone received feedback from citizens regarding the discussion about the future of the district’s elementary school.
Board member Tom Neely said most people who he has spoken to want to save the current elementary school complex.
O’Toole informed the board that in 2008 the district looked at several options.
The first option included demolishing the 1918 building at the elementary school complex. O’Toole said that would leave the district short on space.
The second option included demolishing the 1918 building, but then adding larger building space.
The third option included demolishing the 1918 building, as well as the 1992 portions of the complex and adding building space.
The fourth option included remodeling the entire building complex.
The final option was to abandon the elementary school complex and build a new building.
“We don’t need additional space than what space we have now, but we do need the space that’s there,” O’Toole said.
O’Toole added that demolishing only the 1918 building is not an option.
The Facilities Committee thought the entire elementary school complex should be treated as one building, O’Toole said.
“If you’re going to fix any part of it, fix every part of it,” O’Toole said.
He also said “time is running out” on the HVAC system.
Huber said if the elementary school complex is abandoned completely, the district will have a building complex that it won’t be able to sell.
Board member Jim Schultz said he thought it would be easier to attract and keep teachers in the district if it had a new elementary school building.
Board member Dirk Weber said he also wants a new building to help attract teachers, as well as families to the district.
“I think we should be looking at a referendum and be ready to go in seven or eight years,” Weber said.
The district will continue to seek input regarding the elementary school.