Superintendent's Message

Steven M. Lamarche

Steven Lamarche
Superintendent

We had a number of attendees to include parents, caregivers, school administrators and school committee members. Attached is the presentation provided to the group and then we entered a question (Q) and (A) answer period. We did ask individuals to write their questions on B2B cards so as to collect the feedback.

The following feedback was received through a Q and A period during the transportation forum. While some answers were provided at the time, we took another look and are providing more thorough responses.

It is also helpful for readers to review the slide deck prior to reading these questions and answers.

 

Q.         There are some upper classmen that ride the bus [as their] parking [privileges] are suspended or can’t afford a car, [and] school choice [students] from [the] farthest corners, Again, how are you going to keep younger students safe

A.         Upper classman can only ride the bus if they pay the transportation fee. In addition, suspending an upperclassmen’s parking privilege is infrequent and only ties to their actions in the parking areas and as a last resort to standard school disciplinary actions. School choice students are not permitted to ride our buses

We are not stopping our commitment to keep all students safe on our buses. We have modern buses that contain safety equipment to enhance student safety. All of our buses are less than two years old and have three digital recording cameras that provide lots of information regarding any reported concern. We continue to ask individuals and parents to communicate their concerns directly to a school administrator

Lastly, we are preparing to re-norm student expectations on our buses to include the safe transport of all students from their designated bus stop to school and upon return to the bus stop. B2B, be respectful, be responsible and be safe is part of everything we do

 

Q.         Are you saying [that] school choice students can’t ride the bus if they go to an established stop of a Bourne resident

A.         That is correct

 

Q.         Younger kids will be standing mostly unsupervised at bus stops with older kids. Safety

A.          Bourne High School students represent the lowest school bus ridership in our district. Almost all of our bus stops are neighborhood based and the older students are siblings or neighbors. In the event that there is a concern the school department would be happy to help facilitate or open neighborhood dialog on bus stop concerns. Please note that parents and caregivers hold the responsibility of their student actions at a bus stop. The school department will certainly be a partner in resolving conflict or inappropriate student or parental/caregiver behavior at a bus stop

 

Q.         Cameras can [only] see above the seats. How are you going to keep younger students safe

A.         Each school bus is equipped with three digital recording cameras to cover events from three different angles. When information is provided to school administrators, a review of the recordings and interviews of students leads to a clear picture of inappropriate behavior

 

Q.        How will you manage all of the parents that will now drop off their children

A.        We continue to review our current practices and are making adjustments in preparation for next year. To begin, Bourne Middle School has expended the time that parents/caregivers can drop off their students in the morning. We will look to expand that opportunity at the high school. Before care will continue to be available at Bournedale and at the new Intermediate school

 

Q.        How will peak traffic times impact the length of time that K-2 students will be on the busses when returning over the bridge

A.        To begin, we have exceptional, long standing bus drivers who have demonstrated their ability to navigate the two bridges through lane restrictions and high volumes of traffic. Our addition of buses to the program provides shorter route times to meet our commitment to an average of 25 minute ride time and not to exceed 45 minutes. We know that a bridge closing and infrequent automobile operator accidents can delay buses but will be sure to communicate such a delay as we have in the past

 

Q.         If the school is opening in the fall of 2019 why is it called Bourne 2020

A.         The new school is scheduled to open in the 2019-2020 School Year. In addition, it is Fiscal Year 2020. Lastly, Bourne 2020 is the vision of Bourne Public Schools as we transition to grade-span schools. We support the 2020 vision of the Bourne Public Schools

 

Q.         Why does the middle school and high school have different start times if they are on the same bus

A.         The schools are across two parking areas and it would not be in the best interest of either student group to be dropped at one singular school. The logistics of the parking areas prevents a single drop off location

 

Q.         Is there GPS on [the] buses so that parents know where buses are in the case of traffic or weather

A.        Our buses are not outfitted with GPS devices. We have a state-of-the-art two-way radio communication system on each bus. In addition, we are preparing to tie-in the SafeNet frequency to ensure a second layer of administration communication with all of our school busses and administration

 

Q.        Will bus stops remain on major roads and highways? Waiting between BIS and BES on the highway would be even more dangerous [than] it already is

A.         We do not anticipate bus stop changes other than annual adjustments for move-ins and move-outs

 

Q.         Why can’t the bus come to the second circle? It is only 30 seconds of the street. The walk to the bus stop is a little over a half mile. It is very cold in the morning. It puts a hardship on my parents to wake up early in the morning to drive 2 seconds up the street

A.         We have reviewed this request and determined that the bus stop is located centrally to the neighborhood and do not recommend a change in this stop

 

Q.         High school stops were changed this year to be further away from student’s home. Will these move back to being closer to homes now that it will include grades 6-12

A.         We do not anticipate bus stop changes other than annual adjustments for move-ins and move-outs

 

The following questions are similar therefore warranting a single answer below

Q.         Is Transportation going to be free for all riders

Q.         So 90% of the kids’ rider free and 10% have to pay. We pay taxes and a fee

Q.         If the high school and middle school students are riding together, does the high school bus fee go away

Q.         Does this mean the that there will no longer be a $150 charge for BHS students

Q.         Please explain why BHS students have had the $150 fee. We thought it was because there were so few BHS students taking the bus that the bus was expensive. Now, if BHS and BMS share a bus it should be free for all

A.        At this time we have not proposed a change in the fee-to-ride program for high school students. With our recommendation to combine grades six through twelve, the management of high school student riders is imperative to ensure the safety of students in grades 6-8. Unnecessarily, the district would have to add many more busses for “just-in-case” high school ridership. Furthermore, Bourne Public Schools is not required to transport high school students and the revenue from the fee helps to offset a portion of the transportation budget. Our transportation budget will see a substantial increase for the 2019-2020 budget and we are not prepared to add to that increase with the elimination of the fee-to-ride program for Bourne High School students. We do not charge a fee for student drivers. The fee-to-ride program reduces or eliminates the fee for those students who qualify for participation in the free or reduced lunch program

With that said, as we prepare the Fiscal Year 2020 budget we will look to see if reducing the fee is appropriate

 


2/7/2019


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