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Mehlville board OKs bus routes for '03-'04


By MIKE ANTHONY

Executive Editor

Responding to state cuts in transportation aid, the Mehlville Board of Education recently approved bus routes for the 2003-2004 school year that could affect as many as 4,600 secondary students in grades sixth through 12.

Board members voted unanimously last week to approve the new bus routes recommended by Transportation Director Keith Henry.

Bus routes for elementary pupils will remain unchanged for the coming school year. However, the board's action discontinues the practice of having buses drive down side roads to pick up secondary students who live within a half-mile of the main road.

For the 2002-2003 school year, the district received transportation revenue totaling $1,300,259 from the state.

Current projections indicate the district will receive $1,191,915 for the 2003-2004 school year, a reduction of $108,344 from last year.

Henry told the board his recommendation to discontinue the practice of having buses drive down side roads to pick up secondary students who live within a half-mile of the main road is consistent with existing district policy for students who live on dead-end roads and cul-de-sacs.

In information presented to the board, Henry wrote, "The district can continue to provide services to all students on a less-convenient scale, thus holding costs down. The proposed change would make the routing policy more equalized districtwide by expanding the current board policy regarding dead-end/cul-de-sac roads to also include all side roads that require students — secondary students only — to walk less than a half-mile to the pickup point..

"This would keep buses on the main roads and thoroughfares, allow them to transport closer to capacity and enable them to complete routes in significantly less time. This would not affect the current elementary route structure, but would affect as many as 4,600 secondary students in grades six through 12,'' Henry wrote.

Information provided to the board by Henry and Randy Charles, assistant superintendent for finance and the district's chief financial officer, stated, "The proposed change to secondary routes will decrease the time it takes to pick up students, will compress these routes and will reduce the number of secondary routes. This will result in cost avoidance of approximately $28,000 in salaries and benefits.''

In a related matter, because of road im-provements planned by the Missouri De-partment of Transportation, including the replacement of the Lemay Ferry Road bridge over Interstate 255, the district will use the construction parking area at Ber-nard Middle School to park 30 to 35 buses during the coming school year. Those buses will be used for routes south of In-terstate 255 and Interstate 270.

The savings in mileage, fuel, salaries and benefits is estimated at $40,000.

In a separate matter, the board voted 6-1 with Vice President Matthew Chellis opposed, to reduce the high school athletics activity fee by $10 to $30 per year.

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