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District to tighten school bus pickup and drop-off policy

April 12, 2007|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Beginning in the 2007-08 school year, parents in the Chambersburg Area School District will have to decide where they want their children to be picked up and dropped off by school buses each day and stick with it for the entire year.

Wednesday the school board voted to amend the transportation policy, limiting students to one morning and one afternoon bus assignment. Supervisor of Transportation LaDonna Naugle told the board it will affect about 5 percent of the district's student population of about 8,500 students, or approximately 300 riders.

The issue, which district officials said will primarily affect elementary school students, is the logistics of scheduling children to be picked up and dropped off at several different stops through the week. This is particularly the case of single parents, or families where both parents work, where requests have come in to drop off students at the homes of different relatives or at day-care facilities on different days.

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"This year we've tried to tell parents we can't transport two days to one place and three days to another," Naugle said.

This fall, Business Manager Rick Vensel said, parents and guardians will be limited to "one place of pickup five days a week and one place of drop-off days a week."

Vensel said it is also a safety issue, reducing the possibility that students could get on the wrong bus, be left at the wrong stop, or otherwise lost in the shuffle of going from bus to bus. There are 110 school buses serving the district, he said.

One exception will be allowed, in cases of court-ordered custodial agreements stipulating "shared custody in increments of one week or more." That also comes with other criteria, including that the request for multiple stops does not result in a bus exceeding the legal limits for the vehicle.

The change would also essentially end the practice of students, with written permission, being occasionally allowed to ride a different bus to a friend's house.

"My reading of the policy is that's a no," Board President Thomas Orndorf said.

Board member Renee Sharpe urged the administration to get the word out to parents by as many methods as possible - the district Web site, newsletters, with report cars and through the media.

With ample notice, most parents should be able to work with the district and adjust to the policy change, Assistant Superintendent for Elementary Services Catherine Dusman said.

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