Parents: Kids on buses too long
By AUDREY INGRAM
One hour and 25 minutes is too long for a fifth grade student to ride the bus every morning — both from a parent’s standpoint and from a legal standpoint, Kyle Stalder told Greene County Community School board members last week.
Stalder, who lives about three miles west of Grand Junction, cited Iowa code that requires a student’s riding time from designated stop to attendance center not exceed 60 minutes for an elementary school student or 75 minutes for a high school student.
“Even an hour to expect out of a 5-year-old is a little much,” he said.
Stalder did not ask that the route be reversed — he is interested in his children’s schedule, but he is speaking for all parents, he said.
And he wants an answer from the school board by their next meeting in September, he added.
Jason Reedy supported Stalder’s request for action. His children get on the bus around 6:45 a.m. and don’t get home in the afternoon until 4:15 or 4:30 p.m., he said.
Reedy suggested reversing the route between semesters, or running the same route — in the same direction — in the morning and afternoon.
“In my day, if you were first on, you were first off,” he said — not first on and last off.
Reedy also questioned why the changes were made so close to the start of school, leaving parents little time to adjust before school started.
Superintendent Tim Christensen said the routes were reorganized as a final piece of the East Greene and Jefferson-Scranton school consolidation. The routes were dropped from 10 to eight.
“One of the biggest issues — it doesn’t matter what district you’re looking at — is there are fewer kids riding in the country,” he said. “The buses drive a lot of miles.”
The other challenge is that the district doesn’t know exactly how many students will be attending school and where they need picked up each year until after registration, which was held Aug. 4. The district waits as long as possible to assign routes — this year until Aug. 11.
But even now, additional students are registering, and that will impact routes, Christensen said.
Christensen said the drivers would be making changes before the September meeting. Likely an additional half route will be added to reduce the amount of time students spend riding the buses.
Kristen Heupel also spoke out during last week’s meeting, voicing a different bussing concern — the lack of monitors.
At this time, only two buses that shuttle students to the intermediate school have a monitor on them. Heupel would like to see monitors on all buses.
Two years ago, her daughter had problems with other students on her bus, problems that reached the point of “sexual harassment” before her daughter was moved to a different bus, she said. This year, she has two other children starting fourth grade. Her request to place her students on a bus with a monitor was denied, she said.
“I believe we try hard to give kids the same experience in all classrooms,” she said. “I think we should do the same with the bus.”