ICC says ‘Single Bus’ plan will save quarter-million dollars

KINDERHOOK–The Ichabod Crane School District held a special meeting this week to present the new Single Bus Run Proposal to the community. The proposal would mean that the district’s three school buildings would be on the same bus schedule and kindergarten through 12th grade students would ride the same buses.

The Board of Education would have approve the plan at a board meeting this spring for it to go into effect next year.

All nine board members attended the March 27 along with administrators from all three school buildings and about 30 members of the public.

Superintendent Michael Vanyo reviewed the proposal with the audience. The school currently has two bus runs, one for the middle/elementary school and high school and one for the primary school. This single bus proposal would mean that buses would pick up students and drop them off at each building at one time. This would save time and funds for the district, according to the administration.

“We’re always looking for efficiency,” Mr. Vanyo said at the meeting. He said the district had been considering making the change since November. He also pointed out that many other school districts in the county have a single bus run. “This change is a benefit for our district,” he said.

He and district Business Manager Michael Brennan talked about the savings if the school goes to a single bus run. Though the district will use more buses for the one run, buses will be on the road less, saving an estimated $70,000 to $80,000 in fuel and $7,000 to $10,000 in maintenance.

Mr. Brennan said the big savings is in payroll. There will be 22 fewer hours for drivers on the road daily, saving the district between $138,000 to $155,000. Mr. Brennan said that money saved would be used to maintain and enhance educational programs. He said the total annual savings would be about $245,000.

Mr. Vanyo also pointed out that the decrease in mileage for buses would be 110,000 miles, annually.

Transportation Supervisor Dan Doyle said his office is working with the company that created the travel software the district uses to create bus routes. He said they hope to cut down some of the longer bus routes to under an hour. He also said that having all the buses leave the district at the same time would help shorten late bus routes, which can be as long as an hour and half.

As for traffic flow on campus, Director of Facilities and Operations Steven Marotta said, “There are going to be some changes to where we off-load students, mostly at the high school.”

Students will get on and off buses at the back of the high school instead of the front. Mr. Marotta said the front of the building is very busy at drop-off time since it is also where the teachers, students and staff park. He said they would be going back to the traffic pattern the school district used in the mid-’80s. And he said there would need to be some minor construction this summer to get the back road ready for that.

In this proposed plan, students at the high school will be dropped off at 7:30 a.m.; elementary/middle school at 7:37 a.m.; and primary school at 7:50 a.m., which moves the drop off time up by about an hour in the primary school.

Mr. Vanyo and Mr. Doyle addressed the earlier start time, saying they couldn’t make all the schools start later due to programs, like extra-curricular activities and sports, as well as Questar BOCES programs, that students are involved in. But he said of later start times, “We will continue to look at it.”

Mr. Vanyo also pointed out that not all the district buildings are connected by roads on campus. The high school is on Route 9, with the middle/elementary school behind it, accessible by an on campus road, but the Primary School is off State Farm Road with no access road to the other buildings. Mr. Vanyo said the district is looking at funding a capital improvement project that will look at roads on campus.

Currently Ichabod Crane has a 100% busing policy, which means that a bus route is made available to all students in the district. Mr. Doyle said that buses run at under 50% capacity, mostly due to after-school activities.

Twenty-eight buses are now being used for the older students and 15 are used at the primary school. If the board approves the proposal, 33 buses will transport the students in the district.

One parent, who said his child will be starting primary school next year, said, “When I first heard of this, I was terrified.” He was worried about middle school students riding with his younger child. Mr. Doyle said the worst incident on a bus this year was one student slapping another and that it mostly happens between students of the same grade or close in age. Middle/elementary school Principal Tim Farley said that students’ behavior on the buses has improved. Mr. Farley and Mr. Vanyo also said that that there are cameras with microphones on each bus. “The cameras are extremely clear,” Mr. Farley said.

“We wouldn’t even propose this if we didn’t think this would be a safe measure,” Mr. Vanyo said.

Several district bus drivers attended the meeting as well. Lisa Morrissey, the union president for the district bus drivers, assured the parents, saying, “Honestly, truly, your kids will be fine.”

The district plans to purchase new buses this year, as the district has done every year since 2012. Mr. Doyle said that this year they would not trade in their old buses but keep them as back-ups. He also said that drivers would not be losing their jobs and that the district would be hiring new fulltime drivers.

Mr. Vanyo said that he expects the board will approve the new bus policy before mid-April, when the board accepts the final budget proposal. The annual budget vote is on May 15. He also said that if the board does approve the single bus run, there will be some time during the spring to practice the new traffic patterns.

The next board meeting will be April 10 at 7 p.m. in the High School Library. There is more about the Single Bus Proposal on the district website at www.ichabodcrane.org.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email

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