BEAVER TOWNSHIP- In a cost cutting move the South Range school district this year is having all students on one schedule to accommodate a one route busing schedule.
The change is running smoothly, according to school administrators.
Two weeks into the year, Transportation Supervisor Paul Cubick said there have been a few bus changes for students and some tweeking of routes, but overall the new schedule has started off pretty well.
"It's gone smooth, very efficient," he said, noting that the buses are running at capacity compared to a lot of empty seats last year. He said the department will compile ridership data the first week of October and better understand the increase in efficiency at that time.
Cubick said two buses have been added to accommodate ridership and meet needs in terms of starting at reasonable times. He said the district is 53 square miles, so riding times depend on route length, with students in rural, sparsely populated areas riding longer than those in densely populated areas. The longest ride is approximately 35 minutes, he said.
And although all three grade levels are riding at the same time, there have not been any more behavior problems than typical, Cubick said. He did note that students in the higher elementary grades have a reduced sense of freedom, hopefully preventing some issues. "But there's always going to be some disciplinary issues with the kids," he added.
According to schools Superintendent Dennis Dunham, the change will create an estimated $75,000 or more in savings this year alone, including 40 percent in fuel cost, half the mileage, lower employee costs due to less hours and an unknown amount of savings in regular maintenance of the buses.
Just as importantly, though, the change is making the students safer, Dunham said.
"What I appreciate the most is that it means one less time the buses are out on the roads, especially in inclement weather," he said.
Dunham and Cubick also explained that the one route means regular drivers are taking extracurricular routes during the day, reducing the need for substitute drivers.
So far there has been no feedback from parents, Dunham said.