Bus ride times, transfers at issue at Milton School Board meeting
MILTON The Milton School Board got an earful Monday from parents fed up with long bus rides and a complex transfer system responsible for one student getting on the wrong bus last month.
Board transportation committee Chairman Tom Westrick told six parents that the committee plans discussions between the district and its transportation provider, Riteway bus. The district and Riteway are under fire because of bus ride times some parents say have expanded between 10 and 20 minutes this year.
Rural Edgerton resident Lymon Elliott III has two children who are bused to Milton Schools from his home on Cox Road. They get out of school at 3:30 p.m. and sometimes have returned home as late as 4:55 p.m., he said. He invited the board to sit in his driveway and see when his children get dropped off.
"I double-dog-dare every person on this board and (anyone) responsible for determining how those bus routes are scheduled to do something about it," he said.
A Gazette report on Sunday outlined how parents Noah and Jaime Lamson began driving their kindergarten-age son, Samuel, to and from school after he got on the wrong bus last month at the district's transfer hub at Northside Intermediate.
They've asked the district to transfer Samuel from Milton West Elementary to Consolidated Elementary School in rural Janesville. Consolidated is closer to where the Lamsons live along Highway 51, and his parents say the bus that would transport him to that school would get him home sooner and without a stop to transfer.
District officials are hesitant to transfer Samuel because they say it would throw off the balance of class sizes and open the door for other parents to request school transfers.
Noah Lamson wants the district to cease bus transfers for all kindergarten, first- and second-grade students.
The district runs two waves of after-school busing, re-convening at Northside Intermediate at 3:40 p.m. to transfer elementary school students home.
Westrick and other members of the board's transportation committee observed the transfer process, which involves 12 adult chaperones with two-way radios, and 28 student bus cadets.
Westrick called the transfer a "well-run process with checks and balances that work," although he acknowledged, "anything can be improved upon."
One parent, Amy Bass, said she wishes Riteway would drop her third-grader off at the driveway instead of a quarter-mile away at a blind intersection.
Westrick said the committee plans to meet with Riteway's Milton terminal staff and upper management to find solutions to the problems. No one from Riteway was at the meeting.
Westrick said he’s not sure what to do address lengthening bus rides. District officials blame Highway 26 construction for stretching bus times. He told The Gazette the board could look at running one wave of busing for all students, but it would be much more expensive.
“We have revenue limits. Where do you cut to do that? It’s a balancing act, but we’re going to have very serious conversations about that,” he said.