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Parental Responsibility Emphasized in New Clarion Area School Transportation Handbook, Bus Stop Policy

Friday, July 13, 2018 @ 12:07 AM

Posted by Ron Wilshire

bus-photoCLARION, Pa. (EYT) – Clarion Elementary Principal Roger Walter presented some ideas for possible changes in the 2018-19 Transportation Handbook to the Clarion Area School Board, looking at policies for children walking home after school and a closer look at the policy of when to leave them off at the bus stop or return to the school.

“Every year we find some things missing from the transportation handbook, and I want this to be the board’s policy and not just mine,” Walter said.

The current policy states under what conditions students are allowed to walk home or whom they have to walk with when they go home. Rules are different for K-2 and 3-6. The crux of the problem appears that too many students, particularly the younger ones, must stay after school.

“Isn’t that the responsibility of the parent?” questioned Superintendent Mike Stahlman. “Shouldn’t our parents step up and be responsible parents?”

The board members agreed that parents should be responsible for deciding how students should get home, walking or riding a bus. Regarding walking after school, students are allowed to walk with friends or designated adults (family members, relatives, neighbors, etc.)

The policy is strengthened regarding when students to get off of the bus, and there will be new consequences if the policy is not followed.

“We require a parent or guardian to be there, or they stay on the bus,” Stahlman continued. “We debated this ad nauseam as a team, so we’re just looking for input from the board and where do you want to stand? Ultimately you’re going to get some calls from people who aren’t going to be happy about the policy—how am I going to be there? I can’t be there at the bus stop, or I can’t get somebody there or at the school.”

If a parent (or designated family member, neighbor, or child care provider) is not there at the bus stop, the student will not be allowed to get off at the stop.

“I’ll bet I’ve driven about 30 times from school to a bus stop to pick up kids because the bus driver knew there wasn’t anyone at home,” said Walter. “I would estimate that I handled 40 of these issues last year, many of which required me to drive to homes, transport children in my personal vehicle, and even involve the police in finding parents when children were locked out of homes. In some cases, the parents were inside but just didn’t open the door. We’ve asked the police bring the parents back to their house to let their kids into their own door.”

Board member Julie McCormick asked if a parent isn’t at the bus stop, where are they and are they going to an open house? “If you’re asking me, they are probably at Walmart or grandma’s.”

The board unanimously approved a policy that suspends by riding privileges for families. A two-day suspension will be made for the second time there is not a family member or designee at the bus stop, and a third incident brings a nine-week-long suspension.

Stahlman advised board members if they get any calls from parents, thank them for their comments, but they should really talk to the superintendent or elementary principal.

Voting for the new policy was Hugh Henry, Dave Estadt, Julie Hartley, Shane Kriebel, Julie McCormick, Zachary Shekell, and Braxton White.

In other business, a cooperative sports agreement was approved between Keystone High School and Clarion, allowing Keystone students to wrestle for the Bobcats.

Benefits of a cooperative program would include an opportunity to fill all weight classes, develop a more competitive program, and develop co-ops for other sports programs.

A look at the wrestling records shows a decrease in the number of participants and the need for cooperative programs that allow several different schools to join together and field a program.

With the co-op costs born by the school districts, booster clubs, or parents, a coop program makes good financial sense. The costs of operating a program like wrestling from one school may be prohibitive. Clarion-Limestone and North Clarion also participate in the Clarion co-op wrestling program.

New appointments included the following:

• Natalie Miller-Martini, Supervisor of Special Education K – 12, with a 240-day contact under Act 93and an $82,000 starting annual salary. Miller-Martini had considerable experience and served in a similar position for many years in the Kane School district.

• Monica Gilmore, elementary secretary, 240 days full time at $14.25 per hour.

• Chandra Sheftic, elementary secretary, 200 days part-time at $10.00 per hour.

• Chrissy Kriebel, Assistant Varsity Girls’ Basketball Coach at Step 3, $3,064.00.

The following volunteers were approved:

• Bill Grove – Cross Country

• Ashley Montgomery – Soccer

• Sammi Beichner – Volleyball

• Emily Fillman – Volleyball

• Kate Fillman – Volleyball

• Matt Waterson – Junior High Football

• Dave Brueck – Golf.

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