KINDERHOOK–Ichabod Crane Superintendent Michael Vanyo has told the Board of Education that the district hopes to go to a single bus run system by the next year school. At the board meeting Tuesday night, he talked about the savings to the district if it adopts a single bus run to replace the current two-run system.
Students in the high school and middle/elementary school are picked up on the same bus run, with about 25 buses used for that early run. Then 15 buses go back out to pick up about 350 primary school students, according to district Transportation Supervisor Dan Doyle.
“We’re going to streamline the whole process,” Mr. Doyle told to the board at the March 6 meeting. He said the district would use about 30 buses to pick all the students in a single run.
“There are going to be some challenges,” he said. But he stressed that challenges are worth it for the benefits. He said that making the change would increase the number of students on some buses but it would mean less time on the road for some.
Board member Susan Ramos expressed concern about how long students are on the bus. Currently, Mr. Doyle said, the longest a student is on the bus is an hour and 10 minutes. With the new system, he said, the longest ride would be 55 minutes.
“Fifty-five minutes on a bus for a Primary School student is too much,” said Ms. Ramos.
“Fifty-five is not the norm,” said Mr. Vanyo, and he pointed out that the district is 80 square miles. Mr. Doyle said that some students are on the bus for five minutes.
District Business Manager Michael Brennan said that there would be a $75,000-a-year savings in fuel, $8,000 in maintenance and $160,000 in staffing for a total savings of about $240,000 annually. Mr. Vanyo said that was “not a one-time savings” but was a continued reduction in the budget. He did say the administration was working with the union to maintain employees. He said that might mean expanded opportunities for late buses after school without added cost to the district.
Mr. Vanyo also said that start times at the schools would change a little, with high school starting at 7:40 a.m., middle/elementary school staring at 7:50 a.m. and primary school starting at 8 a.m.
“I think there are a lot of benefits academically for a single bus run,” said Suzanne Guntlow, district principal for annual professional performance review (APPR). She talked about schools days ending at similar times, which means more staff development and the possibility of sharing staff among buildings.
Steve Marotta, director of Facilities and Operations, said the district has “plans for traffic patterns” at the school buildings. There is no connecting road between the high school and middle/elementary school buildings on Route 9, and the primary school on State Farm Road. Mr. Marotta said he didn’t want to go into detail at this time about the issue of the connecting road.
Superintendent Vanyo said that most parents are happy to have their children on the same schedule. He said that one fear parents have is putting high school students on the bus with younger kids, but that nothing bad happens. He said that he had gone to single bus runs in other districts where he’s worked. “I have a lot of experience with this,” he said.
“We think that it’s worth doing,” said Mr. Vanyo of the proposed change.
The board will host a special meeting to present the information about the single bus run plan and have time for questions on Tuesday, March 27 at 7 p.m. in the High School Auditorium.
Mr. Vanyo said the board will need to pass a resolution before the change can be made.
Also at the meeting:
• The board discussed school safety. County Sheriff David Bartlett talked to the board and several students who were at the meeting about the School Resource Officer program, for which the district and the Sheriff’s Office split the cost. “It’s a great partnership,” he said of working with the school.
The sheriff told the students that if they see something they think might be a safety issue to report it to a responsible adult. “Always say something so we can back it up and check it out,” he said.
The board is discussing a capital project to do some upgrades at the school and Sheriff Bartlett told them that his office could do a security assessment of the plan
• The board looked at the instructional budget for the 2018-19 school year. That part of the budget includes teachers’ salaries, curriculum development, and special education. Mr. Brennan said there was about a $720,000 increase in that budget from this school year to next. Mr. Vanyo said the district was still waiting to hear the amount of annual state aid the district will receive, which school officials should know later this month. Petitions for candidates interested in running for the school board will be available March 29. There will be three open seats on the May ballot
• The board accepted several retirements, some for this year and some for 2019. Barbara Ireland, Patricia Lanzilotti, Concetta Melone, Deborah Scalzo, Joanne Trapanese, and Tim Wells will all retire this summer. Dave Bulan, Barbara Byrne, Laura Cannamela, Barbara Duggan, Alissa Ferlito, Robert Scott Payne, Robert Richburg, and Patricia Westover will retire in 2019.
The next board meeting with be April 10 at 7 p.m. in the High School Library.
To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email firstname.lastname@example.org