Parents express school bus concerns

Published 3:45 pm Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Several parents expressed concerns Monday to the Oxford School Board about their children’s safety since the school changed its bus policy at the beginning of the school year.

School district policy mandates that if students live within three-tenths of a mile from a bus stop, they are required to walk to their designated bus stop. At the end of the school year in May, the board decided to fully enforce the policy due to growth in the district’s enrollment.

“Since 2008, we have grown by 1,000 students,” Harvey said. “At least half of those ride the buses.”

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Harvey said that in recent years, the buses have been stopping door-to-door to pick up students, but in order to ensure children get on the bus at a reasonable hour and arrive at school in time, the bus route had to begin abiding by the policy.

He admitted that the original implementation was flawed and caused parental confusion on pickup stops, but new data, software and feedback are helping the district adjust where it can.

The board also is taking into consideration the logistics and safety of the pickups and dropoffs of the students, Harvey said.

Although the state allotment for pickup is within one mile, the board approved an amendment for the policy to include a provision for younger student in grades kindergarten through sixth grade that will allow them to be picked up .15/10th of a mile from there home to take safety into consideration.

Harvey said the board is, and will continue monitoring the buses and their progress and is open to amending the policy again as necessary to better serve the students.

Sabrina Fox attended the meeting because she’s concerned about her 14-year-old’s safety who has to get off the bus on Highway 6 near Gator Road.

“They used to come up the road,” she said. “Now she’s stepping off the bus, sometimes into oncoming traffic. It has put our daughter in harm’s way.”

Harvey said the district has several stops along the highway because there are several homes along the highway.

The district resumed allowing the bus to go back onto Gator Road for two weeks and notified Fox the service would end on Sept. 4.

“They decided that before the board meeting,” she said.

In other business Monday, the board: — Approved to hire an additional kindergarten teacher for Bramlett.

— Approved 2015-2016 enrollment report.

— Approved the Oxford School District Dropout Prevention Program.

— Approved transfer requests for employees’ children.

— Approved IDEA budget application.

— Approved Professional Development with Reading Horizons.

— Honored track coach Chris Bush for being recognized as the Mississippi High School Coach of the Year for Track and Field.