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BOE lifts sunset provision from transportation policy

June 02, 2009|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- Washington County Public Schools students may continue to use school bus transportation to attend schools outside of their assigned attendance districts if they can board buses already en route to those schools.

A vote Tuesday by the Washington County Board of Education continues a provision in the policy that, had it been allowed to expire, would have eliminated that privilege.

The vote was 6-0 with board member William H. Staley absent.

The school board approved a new transportation policy last year, and the section that allows students to be picked up or dropped off at locations other than their homes would have expired at the end of the school year without school board action.

The Washington County Public Schools system is divided into school attendance zones, or districts, and students normally attend schools in the zones in which they live.

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Supervisor of Transportation Barbara Scotto said Tuesday only three students took advantage of the privilege in the current school year. To do so requires school system permission.

Of 23 requests made, 14 were denied because the requests were for students to be transported from bus stops in their home districts to out-of-district schools. Another six were denied because of space limitations on school buses, Scotto said.

No new bus stops, routes or schedules were established as a result of students attending out-of-district schools. Students simply "hop the nearest bus" by walking to an existing bus stop with service to the school, or they get there by other means, Scotto said.

Board member Justin M. Hartings said transportation often is the biggest barrier to students who want to study in one of the county's magnet or signature programs.

He suggested, in the future, officials consider granting transportation requests regardless of whether there is space on a bus.

He said officials could "configure the bus routes to give students that opportunity."

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