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The return of in-town school bus routes?

School board members agreed to a trial bus route for two south Hillsboro neighborhoods

Staff writer

After parents of USD 410 students presented their need for an afternoon school bus service to Willow Glen neighborhood during Monday’s school board meeting, board members decided to start an after-school drop off for both Willow Glen and Carriage Hill neighborhoods in south Hillsboro.

Led by parent Miranda Reed, Willow Glen residents said they pick their students up from school because there are no sidewalks in the neighborhood. She said a 45 miles-per-hour speed limit poses an unsafe risk for walkers, as cars speed up to 60 miles per hour when heading south out of town.

“It’s a big safety concern for us parents and our kids riding bikes and walking along that road,” Reed said.

Board members said they felt because there is a lack of safe walking conditions from the schools to that neighborhood, Willow Glen and Carriage Hills had to be a priority compared to other neighborhoods west of Ash St.

“There’s not a route for those neighborhoods,” said board member Rod Koons. “We didn’t change our route to accommodate this. We had our routes in place.”

It was approved with hesitation, and only as a semester trial period, as board members said it could open a bag of worms with other neighborhoods who have mentioned wanting in-town school bus services.

In-town bus routes were eliminated in 2008 when the district was forced to make cuts due to budget shortfalls, said maintenance director Keith Goosen.

“We were making cuts at every dollar we could find, so we eliminated the town route at that point,” he said.

Superintendent Max Heinrichs said he is not at all opposed to returning in-town busing — the district has the buses available — but they do not have enough bus drivers or people interested in driving. The district has placed advertisements seeking drivers, but has seen little to no interest.

“If we can find drivers, I don’t think the board would have a problem with this,” Heinrichs said, referring to the addition of in-town bus routes.

Board members agreed.

“Our answer is we logistically do not have the power to do that,” Koons said. “That is logistically the truth.”

The district is able to service after-school drop offs for Willow Glen and Carriage Hill students because it does not require an additional driver. Rather, these neighborhoods will be served by the east bus route that has room for more students. It is expected to add only 5-10 minutes to the route, and these two additional stops will be completed last so that it does not affect current bus rider schedules.

Heinrichs said he does not yet know when these additional stops will start, but he hopes to have an idea by the end of the week.

In other business:

  • Hillsboro Middle/High School principal Clint Corby and Hillsboro Elementary School principal Evan Yoder gave quarterly reports. Corby said he is committed to “making homecoming day out of the ordinary.” He has student competitions, career cruising, and alumni programming in the works. Yoder said the elementary school’s three new teachers have been outstanding, and he is excited the school chickens have begun laying eggs.
  • Resignations were accepted from assistant track coach Mike Jilka, Hillsboro Middle School’s head girls’ basketball coach Glen Ratzlaff, and Hillsboro Middle/High School media center coordinator Jeannie Harsin. They also approved the hiring of Janet Whisenhunt to replace Harsin.
  • Supplemental contracts were accepted for GAP assistant Jill Hein, middle/high school assistant drama coach Tricia Williamson, district wellness coordinator Lena Knoll, and CTE club sponsor Jesse Allen.
  • Heinrichs said 69 percent of middle schoolers and 48.4 percent of high schoolers are involved in fall sports. In overall school activities, 75 percent of middle schoolers and 56 percent of high schoolers are involved, but Heinrichs said not all clubs and activities have been counted yet. He said he has a goal of 100 percent student participation with each student participating in at least one activity or sport they enjoy.

Last modified Sept. 13, 2017

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