(Posted July 7, 2016)
Collaboration will be the key to determining how Madison-Plains Local Schools moves forward in transporting students to school beginning in August.
District officials are studying the merits of sending two separate runs to and from school each day. The first would deliver students in grades 7-12; a later run would transport students in kindergarten through sixth-grade.
Thirty people—including residents, teachers and administrators—attended a recent Madison-Plains Advisory Council meeting to discuss the issue. More than an additional dozen have contributed feedback though the superintendent’s blog, “Join the M-P Conversation.”
Superintendent Tim Dettwiller said this is not the first time the district has considered the option. It was proposed as recently as June 2015 at which point more research was warranted.
Dettwiller said moving to a two-tiered routing system could save the district significant money and would reduce ride time for students. The bus replacement cycle could be lengthened and traffic flow on Linson Road would be relieved.
The proposal was put forward as the district developed routing plans for the 2016-17 school year.
“If we can delay the need for a levy request by a year and provide better transportation services, we must consider the option,” Dettwiller said. “We also need to be sure we are best serving our students as far as the time spent traveling back and forth to school.”
Dettwiller said some raised concerns about additional childcare needs with a shift in pick-up and drop-off times and their ability to attend after-school events at the secondary level if they must wait for younger students to get home from school.
“We are working with the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) to provide a licensed before- and after-school latch-key program,” Dettwiller said. “Our com-munity support is driven by all stakeholders including non-parent community members.”
Treasurer Todd Mustain is waiting for feedback from ODE to verify cost savings with mileage reimbursement from the state. He and Dettwiller also are working closely with the bargaining unit representing the drivers to explore options for those who could be displaced. One possibility is for those who lose positions to serve as drivers for field trips and other similar excursions.
Dettwiller said he and his administrative team will continue to explore the options before making a recommendation at the July 12 school board meeting.
The group also discussed the possibility of converting the gymnasium at the intermediate school into an auditorium for district-wide use. The option would allow for larger performing arts productions and other community gatherings. The high school auditorium would be converted into a common space.
Construction would be paid for with permanent improvement dollars, a fund that cannot be used per state law for salaries and general operating expenses. Dettwiller said more research would be done to gather detailed costs. A recommen-dation could be made to the school board in January 2017 with an anticipated completion date of July 2017.