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Deer Lakes board may limit school bus stops

| Monday, Jan. 21, 2013, 7:07 a.m.

The Deer Lakes school board may limit where students can get on and off school buses.

As proposed by Garry Dixson, director of buildings, grounds and transportation, students would be limited to getting on the bus at one place in the morning, and getting off at one place in the afternoon.

The afternoon stop could be different from the morning, he said.

“I think it's the best thing for this district,” he said.

Board President Lisa Merlo asked Dixson to present a plan for the board to review and vote on. If approved, the new procedure would not be effective until the start of the 2013-14 school year.

The district's school buses are now essentially “yellow taxis,” he said. The district has more than 200 special requests that alter where students get on and off buses, he said.

This existing system requires bus drivers remember all the different places students are let off buses, which vary by the day and week. Children are even sometimes confused about what bus they're supposed to ride, and where they're supposed to get off, Dixson said.

“It's a nightmare,” he said.

Stopping that practice would reduce the district's liability, Dixson said. The district could be responsible if a student is dropped off somewhere where nobody is home and something happens.

“I've been in my car searching the district before,” Dixson said.

Dixson also asked the school board about placing a section on the district's website to handle bus stop change requests.

Parents would be required to read a “frequently asked questions” page before submitting a bus stop request on the website. Most questions about bus stops can be answered by the FAQ, which would say for what reasons the district will and will not change bus stops, Dixson said.

The new system would reduce phone calls, which Dixson often turn confrontational.

Brian C. Rittmeyer is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4701 or brittmeyer@tribweb.com.

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