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BOE puts brakes on busing talk

4/1/2014

By ELIZABETH GOLDEN

By ELIZABETH GOLDEN

egolden@dailynews.net

For now, the Hays USD 489 Board of Education is holding the bus.

Board members tabled a discussion on the addition of a transportation fee for students within 2.5 miles from attendance centers in the district at Monday night's meeting.

Administration recommended the board approve a fee of $150 per student per school year for transportation within a 2.5-mile radius of an attendance center, exempting students who qualify for the federal free or reduced lunch program.

Russ Henningsen, transportation director, gave a report on different scenarios for cost savings in the transportation department.

He said 301 students live farther than 2.5 miles for their schools, and that costs the school district $8,000 per route per year.

Those living farther than 2.5 miles are subject to pay a fee.

"The intent of this was we would bus rural farm kids to and from school," said Greg Schwartz, board president. "We really only need to bus 188, but we're busing 1,083."

Schwartz suggested cutting the amount of students being bused.

"We're looking at cutting," he said. "If we bus 40 percent of the population of this district, it's foolish. We could save a lot of problems by drawing boundaries. I rather not raise the cost of enrollment or kindergarten and only bus the kids we have to."

Currently, families are able to select whichever school they like, but Schwartz said this is causing the district greater problems.

For students living in rural areas, the district reimburses the parents to drive their children to the bus stop, if it is located more than 1 mile from their house.

"We're paying about $33,000 to those driving to the pick-up spot," said Superintendent Dean Katt. "We're paying 62 families to drive from their house to where the bus picks them up."

Schwartz suggested the possibility of looking into buses driving to each rural house individually as opposed to paying an additional amount to the parents.

In other news:

* The board accepted resignations from Elli Kasra, after-school co-director at Roosevelt Elementary School; Anna Huynh, teacher at Westside School; and Nichole Lind, school psychology intern.

* James Leiker was appointed to the position of vice president of the board after the resignation of Darren Schumacher. The board has begun the process of replacing Schumacher, who is leaving Hays to pursue another job.

* The board discussed adding additional minutes during the first few days of the school year to account for possible snow days later on.