Revised bus schedule irks some parents while saving FW schools $100,000

A proposed change to the start time at Rainier View Elementary could put kindergartners and eighth-graders at Sequoyah Middle School on the same bus — and some parents are none too happy about it.

"I don't feel this decision is right," parent Travis Geving said at the June 9 school board meeting.

Geving, a middle school teacher, said he knows what kind of discussions go on between middle schoolers, especially boys, and he doesn't want his younger children exposed to that.

"I don't like the idea of a kindergartner and an eighth-grader on the same bus," parent Sally Boyer-White added.

Boyer-White complained about the way parents were informed of the change: A small notice on the second page of the newsletter, which mentioned only the change in start time, not the busing changes. She said that was not the proper way to notify the community.

The district is hoping to save money on transportation costs with the move.

"I understand the budget concerns, but safety comes first," Boyer-White said.

The two parents also criticized the school district for not responding to their questions and for not allowing parents to be better informed about the move.

However, immediately following the comments, they and several other parents from the school that had come in support were invited to move to another room for a meeting with transportation director Cindy Wendland.

A letter went out to parents on Friday, inviting them to an informational meeting about the change on Monday at 6:30 p.m. at Sequoyah Middle School.

Currently, the school starts at 8:50 a.m. and ends at 3:20 p.m. The proposed change would put the start time at 8:10 a.m.

The district also expects that the students will only be on the buses about 5 to 10 minutes longer than they currently are. District spokeswoman Diane Turner said that currently, the buses are running partially empty on almost the same routes for middle and high school students. By changing the start time and having elementary and middle school students on the same route, the district estimates it will save about $100,000.

The move is part of the proposed budget that Superintendent Tom Murphy put before the board earlier this year. The board will vote June 23 on whether to accept the budget.

Rainier View would not be alone in busing a larger age range. Both Woodmont and Nautilus, which are K-8 schools, bus all students in the same buses. Star Lake Elementary School is also under consideration to bus with Totem Middle School next year.

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