Question: If we want to encourage our children to attend and participate in after-school activities and clubs at the middle school, why are they unable to ride the bus home with the students from TLC and the intermediate school? Since the buses are already out on a scheduled run, it shouldn't cost the district any extra money to provide the transportation. As we know, many parents work and are unavailable to pick their children up from these worthwhile activities. Research has shown that keeping students active after school is essential to encouraging positive choices and preventing opportunities to get into "trouble." The kids whose parents can't pick them up are the ones that need to be there the most, because they are the ones that are most likely going home to an empty house. It seems sad that many students may be missing out on these opportunities due to "logistics." This is an area that is definitely worth considering making a change.
Answer: I agree with you 100 percent on all counts. Yes, extracurricular activities are important for all students, especially students in the middle school. The benefits of participating in extracurriculars are well-documented. However, the reality is that providing transportation for students who participate in after-school activities is an added cost, and unfortunately in this era of belt-tightening, it's a cost we've decided to cut.
It's true that buses are at the intermediate school and TLC to pick up our elementary students at dismissal time, and the timing of that bus run corresponds with the ending times of many club meetings and after-school activities at the middle school and high school. However, in order to save money, we've streamlined our transportation routes and reduced the number of buses that are deployed on regular bus runs. That means that these buses are almost always filled to capacity with elementary students -- there's literally no room for secondary school students who stay after school.
Granted, the buses aren't always completely full during elementary runs. But we can't predict day-to-day how many elementary students will be on the buses or how many secondary school students will require after-school transportation. State law requires that all students have a seat -- there can be no standing passengers.
You may recall that, a few years ago, we had a whole other bus run to meet this need, often referred to as the "late bus." The board made the difficult decision to eliminate that bus run in order to save money. The decision to streamline regular bus runs to the point that we can't guarantee room on the buses for secondary school students during the elementary bus runs was an equally difficult decision to make.
- answered by Stephen Tomlinson, Superintendent of Schools
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