PENNCREST School Board is considering a proposal to standardize transportation requests that deviate from the district's standard busing routes.

The proposal was presented at Monday's board meeting by David Dickson, director of Facilities and Transportation, and involves four paper forms parents and guardians can fill out if they wish to make change as to where their child is picked up or dropped off by school buses. Each form covers a different scenario.

The first form is built off a preexisting program which allows a parent/guardian to request that their child attend a different school within the district than the one they would currently attend. Dickson proposed keeping the program but requiring that the parents or guardian provide transportation to and from the school they transferred their child to or take their child to a designated bus stop already established by the PENNCREST Transportation Department.

The second form is used in cases where a child is under split custody. In such cases, the school district will try to honor both requested stops for the child using existing bus routes where seating is available. The district will not add additional mileage to a route or use additional equipment for these requests, according to the form.

"As long as you folks live in the same attendance area, I can take a child home to one parent and to the other," Dickson said. "I'm asking for a consistent schedule."

The third form allows for an alternate bus stop for taking students home. Dickson gave the example of a student getting picked up from their parents' house but getting dropped off at their grandparents' home after school. Such alternate stops must be used every day of the school week.

The final form is to allow for a second stop along the same bus route, such as a student getting dropped off at a neighbor's house or a daycare.

Superintendent Timothy Glasspool said the aim of these forms is to increase efficiency and consistency with the district's bus routes.

"Some of our split custody, alternative stops, we really do try to please people, and I think we bend over backwards too much so," he said.

These forms are not needed for sudden exceptions, Glasspool said, such as if a parent gets a flat tire and cannot reach a stop. In those cases, he said the parent or guardian may call in and request the change. These forms are more targeted toward people who frequently change their child's bus route, he said.

"There are people who call every day with changes almost like we're a taxi service to a certain degree," Glasspool said.

Glasspool said at Monday's meeting that he wanted school board members to get feedback on the idea and discuss it with others before the matter is brought up for a vote.

"We want you guys to have some time to think about it, bounce it off some folks, see if it sounds rational and logical," he said.

Dickson, in an interview Thursday, estimated the district's buses transport around 2,700 kids every school day across a 408-square-mile area. He said requests for alterations in where kids are picked up and dropped off are a daily occurrence.

While the measure is still pending approval, Dickson said he would ideally like such forms to be turned in before the start of the school year. He said later that changes will be accepted in cases such as a family moving or other similar circumstances.

Speaking with the Tribune after Monday's meeting, Glasspool said he thinks the matter may be brought up for vote in March.

Sean P. Ray can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at sray@meadvilletribune.com.

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