More students to be eligible for busing in District 834

Students unload from a bus outside Stonebridge Elementary April 1. Next year an estimated 630 more students in the district will be eligible for transportation. (Gazette staff photo by Jonathan Young)

Students unload from a bus outside Stonebridge Elementary April 1. Next year an estimated 630 more students in the district will be eligible for transportation. (Gazette staff photo by Jonathan Young)

The Stillwater School Board voted unanimously to change transportation zones and eliminate the fee for busing services for school next year.

Currently secondary students who live two miles away can take advantage of busing, while elementary school students who live one mile away are provided with busing.

The board opted to provide busing to elementary students from a half-mile away from schools and the secondary students from one mile away from schools. The change are expected to provide 630 more students with transportation to their neighborhood schools.

“Our current goals focus on attracting people to our schools,” Director of Operations Dennis Bloom said. “When we try to attract students, providing a ride would help us make sure that they get to school. Sometimes students can’t attend school because of the lack of a ride.”

Increased transportation could also encourage increased attendance and let students stay after school for homework help if they need it, according to Director of Elementary Schools Malinda Lansfeldt.

The district will add two buses to the secondary routes and one bus to the elementary routes. There will be about 30 current fee-for-service students expected to lose transportation. If the intersection of Highway 10 and Manning is designated a hazard, however, that number would drop a little.

The district will now spend additional money, adding $167,500 to the current budget, accounting for lost revenue from the fee-for-service program of $40,000. The current transportation budget stands at $6 million, and $87,500 has been designated for transportation in the Bridge to Excellence plan.

“I don’t know if the change will make an impact on enrollment over the next two years, but I know that it will alleviate the long drop-off lines in the mornings, and as the seniors cycle out, I think increased transportation will help our potential new students.” Bloom said.

Bloom also added that if students who are not included in the new zones could walk two blocks to a stop near their home they could be picked up and taken to school if there was room on the bus.

Contact Avery Cropp at avery.cropp@ecm-inc.com

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