Massena considers policy change on who can ride school buses

wwny Massena considers policy change on who can ride school buses

MASSENA, N.Y. (WWNY) - One of your kids gets a ride to school but another cannot. Why? That has been a question in Massena for years.

Every school year Massena parents call. They have the same question about the school bus that pulls up in front of their house every morning.

"They would ask, what I would term sometimes a common sense question, about how come my junior high kid, my younger kid, has to walk but my older kid can ride," said Alan Oliver, Massena Junior High principal.

The junior high and high school are just one-third mile apart. Students more than one-and-a-half miles from their school get a bus ride. That means the high schooler may be far enough away for a ride. But not so for the junior high student.

"It doesn't seem very rational to them that the bus stops in front of our house and picks up my high school student but doesn't pick up my younger junior high student," said

Patrick Brady, Massena Central School District superintendent.

Oliver has asked for a policy change he may get. He wants to reduce the distance at which students can be bused to just 1.2 miles.

"So the idea is to shrink the circle at the junior high to get it to coincide with the high school circle. So everybody can ride a bus in the same house now," he said.

If the policy were changed, about 60 more junior high students who now have to walk or find other transport would be able to take the bus.

This isn't just about giving some more students a lift to junior high. It's designed to be part of the school district's overall drive to reduce absenteeism.

Almost 15 percent of junior high students are chronically absent from school. They hope by 'shrinking the circle' around the junior high they can reduce that number.

"It's part of our strategic goals to improve student achievement and student attendance goes along with that," said Brady.

The cost would be $25,000 per year – but only if a bus run has to be added. The school board is considering including it in this year’s budget proposal.

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