KINDERHOOK–The Ichabod Crane school board discussed moving to a single-bell busing system at its meeting this week. Board members reviewed the advantages and challenges that come with having all three school buildings start and finish at the same time.
“I think we need to look at it further,” said Business Manager Michael Brennan, who presented the information to the board. He stressed that the district was not yet ready to switch from two morning and afternoon bus runs to one.
He did say there would be a cost savings to the district of about $124,000 to adopt a single bus run system. The savings mostly comes from staff reductions and fuel. The district would need to buy four more buses to meet the demand and he said they would look into making the bus runs shorter so no child is on the bus longer than 60 minutes.
Among the advantages of a single-bell, he said, are that all the students get picked up at the same time instead of the current system, where middle, elementary and high school students are on one schedule and the primary school (grades K-3) are on a separate schedule. Superintendent Michael Vanyo said district officials are looking at a 7:50 or 8 a.m. start time for all the schools if there is a one-bell system.
But Mr. Vanyo also said that this was not something that will happen right away. He said the district needed “to start the process” of looking into the change, adding that right now the administration is not projecting a major deficit in next year’s budget that this cost savings would offset.
“I don’t feel a lot of pressure that we have to do this,” he said. He did say that down the road they may need to make the change.
Mr. Vanyo said that most schools that are on one campus, like Ichabod, have gone to a single-bell system. Mr. Brennan said the district did look into it when the board closed the two elementary schools in the Villages of Valatie and Kinderhook and moved all the students to the main campus on Route 9. Mr. Brennan also said that two different consultants hired by the district have suggested moving to the single-bell system.
The biggest issue with changing the bus runs is getting the students to the buses. Right now the middle and elementary school students, who are in the middle school building, get picked up and are bused to the High School where they wait for the high school students to get on. That increases their time on the bus, which the district wants to keep down to 60 minutes. Also, there is not enough space in the primary school parking lot for the 30 buses needed to pick up the students there.
Mr. Brennan had some discussion with the board at the meeting about a facilities change to create a pick-up spot between the middle school and primary school buildings. But he said he does not know if that would need to be capital project.
Board member Susan Ramos has concerns about how long students would be on the bus, saying that even 60 minutes one-way is a long commute.
Board member Regina Rose voiced concerns about having the primary school students walk to the buses half way between the school buildings. “I don’t see a compelling reason to do this,” Ms. Rose said.
“It’s not the best case scenario for today,” Mr. Brennan said. But it is something the district will continue to look at.
Also at the meeting:
• The board heard a presentation about the k through 12 math program. In the lower the grades, the licensing agreement with Pearson for the company’s math program is up this year. Administrator Suzanne Guntlow said that Pearson and one other company would be coming to present their math programs and materials
• The board accepted the resignation for the purpose of retirement of Michelle Pullen, the greeter at the elementary/middle school, effective November 24. School Principal Tim Farley said that this was a well deserved retirement and that Ms. Pullen “takes her job very, very seriously”
• The board’s Communications Committee is planning to create a Wall of Fame for school and community members who have supported the district.
The next board meeting is December 5 at 7 p.m. in the High School Library.
To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email