Archive for Thursday, February 23, 2006

Bus plan for all-day kindergarten sparks mom’s concern

February 23, 2006

To ensure a smooth run of all-day kindergarten's inaugural year next year at Nottingham Elementary School, Eudora USD 232 administrators have been traveling to schools across the state to compare programs.

The goal of their research is to tailor Eudora's kindergarten program into a perfect fit for the city.

But to mother Erinn Steffen, with all the research and rush to establish the class, the district could be missing the bus. She said she's concerned about the amount of time her daughter could be spending on the school bus on her way school.

"My kindergartner is going to have to get on the bus at 6:25 a.m., and they haven't talked about any of it yet," Steffen said.

The kindergartner-to-be has an older sister who rides the school bus from the family's home on 1200 Road early in the morning.

"She's always gotten on the bus long before seven," Steffen said.

Steffen said she'd been talking to officials including Nottingham Principal Jim Lauer and Eudora USD 491 superintendent Marty Kobza about the busing implication of all-day kindergarten since she first started following coverage of the transition last year.

"They're pushing this and they're pushing this," Steffen said. "They've visited schools, but no one is worrying about transportation."

Kobza said this was the first busing complaint he had heard.

"Basically what it amounts to is the transportation will be no different next year as it is this year," Kobza said.

Students would ride the buses for the all-day program in the same route as they do now for half-day classes, Kobza said.

The implications of sending her youngest daughter on the same route still has Steffen concerned. Once at the school, both daughters wait for the start of class at 8:10 a.m like the older daughter has to this year.

"She's the first one that gets to school,." Steffen said. "She has to sit on a cold floor and wait for school to start."

The length of the day also causes Steffen doubts, she said.

"Getting her up at 6 and then I'm not going to see her until a quarter to 4," Steffen said. "That's a long day for her."

Steffen said she wasn't alone with her criticism of the busing system.

Kobza stood by the district's bussing plan.

"Relatively speaking, our times of when children are on busses are short compared to others," Kobza said.

Kobza said the district emphasized that when first drafting the bus route.

"We always want what's best for all the children involved," Kobza said. "So when we plot out bus routes, we try to put them out in the least intrusive ways possible.

"We have to keep in mind we're dealing with large numbers of students. We want it to be convenient for the most students possible."

Larry Bluthardt an expert on school bus safety for the Kansas Department of Education said limiting school bus ride time is currently a guideline for the state and not a regulation.

"We realize there is a problem and a concern," Bluthardt said. "We moved it from regulation because we had a hard time enforcing that anyway and we ask districts to stay within the hour when ever practical."

The district still remains staunch to its philosophy of promoting safety, Kobza said.

"We feel like we do a good job of getting students to and from school safely, and that's our primary objective," Kobza said. "We cover many miles every day."

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