Pine River board approves district-wide busing changes

LEROY — To conserve fuel, decrease spending and lessen the amount of time students spend riding the bus each day during the school year, members of the Pine River Area Schools Board of Education approved busing drop-off and pick-up changes at an Aug. 12 meeting.

The changes stem from a transportation analysis that was completed this summer, which determined how efficient the current system is and what changes could be made to reduce costs and also improve its operations.

District buses cover about 265,000 miles each year, transporting almost 300 students with 12 regular morning and afternoon routes. With the changes, which keep student safety in tact and comply with school board policy, 273 bus stops will be eliminated.

The current budget for transportation is $850,000. PRAS Superintendent Jim Ganger said he expects the transportation changes to save about $30,000 a year. By starting routes about 30 minutes later, it will also allow drivers and students to receive additional time to sleep, he added.

Now, buses will begin afternoon runs at 2:55 p.m. at Pine River Area Elementary School and those elementary students will board the buses on which they will ride home.

Transferring buses will no longer take place. Following the elementary pick-up, the buses will travel to the middle school and high school campus to pick up additional students before heading to each drop-off location.

The district is asking parents to make sure their child is at the bus stop at least five minutes before the scheduled pick-up time, provide protection for the child when he or she is going to and from the bus stop and while waiting for the bus and to be certain the child is riding the assigned bus only. Children will not be allowed to ride unassigned buses.

In addition, families only will be allowed two pick-up and drop-off locations, including a primary site and an alternative site, such as a relative or day care facility.

Students living in Tustin, Ashton, Luther and LeRoy village limits will be picked up at a central location in each village instead of at individual houses.

In Tustin, the stop will be located at the former Tustin Elementary School; in Luther, students will be picked up at the Newkirk Township Hall; the Ashton stop will be located at the Ashton Fire Hall; students in LeRoy living on the east side of Mackinaw Trail will be picked up on Kent Street; LeRoy students on the west side of Mackinaw Trail will be picked up at Pine River Area Elementary School.

Although there will be no bus stop supervision provided by the district, Ganger hopes parents will volunteer when possible.

Students living on dead end roads will board the bus at the corner of the road and school buses will no longer drive into private subdivisions including Deer Lake Estates, Swiss Alpine and Hogback Lake. Instead, students in the subdivisions will be picked up at the entrance of each. The Rose Lake Forest subdivision will have three designated pick-up spots, Ganger said.

“Stops may be flexible if we find a problem,” he added.

The change may require students to walk further than before and be prepared for weather conditions.

“Some may have to walk about a quarter of a mile to the stop, but no more,” he said.

A letter was sent last week to district parents regarding the changes and what they entail. Bus drivers also will contact parents with more specific information.

In other business, the board members approved a motion to raise lunch prices across the district. Middle school and high school students will see a five cent increase, bringing the total to $1.90 and lunch for elementary students will increase by 15 cents to bring the cost to $1.65.