JAMESTOWN – With a reported 1,330 students in the Greenview Local School District spread out over 125-square miles, bus routes and transportation costs can be complicated issues for school officials, who are working with experts to decrease cost and maximize efficiency.
School officials discussed in detail Thursday night the preliminary transportation findings of the Ohio School Boards Association, pertaining to complicated bus routing plans, during a regular meeting of the school board Thursday night.
“We have a low population density,” Greenview Local Superintendent Isaac Seevers told the board. “We are funded per mile, not per kid. So the low amount of students per mile increases driving distances and cost.”
The preliminary findings came to two conclusions, which indicate the district might be able to take three or five buses off the road – operating on eight to 10 buses district-wide, but with a 100-minute gap in the morning between the picking up of high school students, to the picking up of the elementary kids. Seevers said they might be able to cut that gap down 10 minutes.
“These guys know what they’re doing,” Seevers said of the OSBA. “They’ve done this before.”
Of the 495 elementary students in the district, Seevers said 307 ride the bus. In the middle school, 225 of the 450 students ride and the high school has 124 of its 385 students taking the bus to school.
“We looked at overcrowding and the large gap of age differences of students on the bus – kindergarteners riding with seniors,” Seevers said. “These are long route times for students.”
Ten buses gives the district more flexibility to cut those drive times down, school officials pointed out.
That would take three buses off the road and – with school bus prices soaring at $90,000 each – it could save the district $270,000.
The second proposal could possibly take five off the road, but make for much longer route times.
“We weren’t going into this thing to save money, but there is a cost savings,” Severs said. “We can get rid of older buses, and we would have a new fleet. We wouldn’t have to buy three buses … And there are additional savings and opportunities …”
School officials said they’ll need to rebid driving routes with existing bus drivers, a few of whom are considering retirement, and analyze their fleet.
“They recommend keeping them (school buses) no longer than eight years,” Seevers said. “So here we are, somewhere between eight to 10 buses.”
Board member Theresa Wallace joked about the drive times, in support of shorter routes, because of her childhood experiences with long bus rides home.
“I like those shorter drive times,” she said. “I was one of those kids who had to ride a for a Iong time.”
In other action, the board revised this school year’s calendar this year to reflect a three-hour delay for ACT testing at the high school March 21, for those who are not taking the test.
The calendar year for next school year was approved with discussion as to when they’d set the first day of school.
Seevers urged the board to set the first day to Aug. 14, stressing the important of those five additional days of education.
And although slightly more than 50 percent of the teacher’s association voted for the Aug. 21 start date, Severs still recommended the Aug. 14 start date option..
“As an educator, those five school days are important,” Seevers said.
After the start date, holiday breaks were discussed.
March 4 and March 8 were set as parent teacher conference days.
The board approved a student protective agency for student insurance for next year.
Also approved was a service agreement for Inga Fisher, consultant expenditure for no more than $3,400.
Later, the board went into executive session at 8:24 p.m. to “discuss the employment and compensation of a public employee,” telling those in attendance there would be no action after the session.
Greenview Local School Board members convene again for the next regular meeting at 7p.m. Thursday, March 16 at 4 South Charleston Road.
Brian Evans is a freelance writer for Greene County News