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August 13, 2014  |   Comments (3)   |   Post a comment

The school bus as key to well-rounded education

by Nicole Schlosser - Also by this author

This photo, from Laurie Smith of Richfield Springs (N.Y.) Central School, was awarded an Honorable Mention in our 2014 Photo Contest. It shows the value of the yellow school bus in student access to extracurricular activities.

This photo, from Laurie Smith of Richfield Springs (N.Y.) Central School, was awarded an Honorable Mention in our 2014 Photo Contest. It shows the value of the yellow school bus in student access to extracurricular activities.

As you may have seen, we recently published the winners and standouts of our 2014 Photo Contest. We had some very impressive and unique entries, including one we awarded with an honorable mention, from Laurie Smith, the Students Against Drunk Driving/Project Prom co-advisor for Richfield Springs (N.Y.) Central School.

The photo, shown here, captures students on their way to their junior prom, courtesy of a “yellow limo” from the school. Once the school started holding its prom at an off-campus location, students were required to ride school buses as a safety precaution.

The photo spurred a discussion among us here at SBF about the value for students of extracurricular school transportation for activities ranging from academic and athletic competitions to field trips to school dances and other social events. In fact, we are planning a story on the topic in an upcoming issue.

As for me, I was lucky enough in my high school years to have access to a school bus that ran late hours to accommodate after-school and weekend rehearsals and sometimes even competitions and performances so I could be involved in theater and music programs. Participating in those extracurricular activities taught me as much about work ethic, teamwork, responsibility and constantly trying to improve, as any of my classes. For many students who can’t even get to school for classes without the benefit of a school bus service, extracurricular transportation is particularly critical to their ability to get a better-rounded education by giving them access to these events.

We are curious to know not only about what types of trips your school districts are providing in addition to running routes to and from classes, but also about any budgetary issues that may have arisen as school funds have declined, and how your district has coped with them so that the kids still get to participate in the annual trip to the state capitol, or weekly play rehearsals, sports team practice, weekend football games, marching band and speech team tournaments, etc.

Do you have any interesting instances or anecdotes of extracurricular transportation to share for our story? If so, please share in the comments below. 

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Read more about: activity/field trips, multifunction school activity bus (MFSAB)

We have 5:30 activity buses out of our junior and senior high schools every day of the school year. They are used pretty extensively by students. However, you can't force the kids to ride the bus. Last September, two star football players who left practice around 5:30, opting to drive rather than ride the activity bus home, were seriously injured in a very bad car crash which was the fault of one of the players using excessive speed. One succumbed to injuries about a month later after being on life support since the accident. The other attended graduation in June still in a wheel chair. My first thoughts on this all along have been they'd both be alive and well had they ridden the bus! Parents should encourage their kids to use the bus at all times.

G. Bridgman    |    Aug 13, 2014 10:28 AM

I work for a small school district in the rural southern part of Illinois and we have cut extracurricular busing entirely. Unlike urban areas where the tax base is well funding school districts we rely on state aide to support the transportation department in the form of mileage reimbursement. There is no such reimbursement for extracurricular activities. This is the second year, so we'll see how it goes but last year wasn't too bad. Some parents commented that they actually like taking their kids to events because it gives them some "together" time that once was spent around the dinner table. In years past we always brought back an empty bus anyway so the parents were going to the games. The only reason the kids road the bus to the event was because it was required. One problem that some were predicting was that the "poorer" kids wouldn't be able to make it to games but this has not proved to be true. They have been getting a ride with others or another family member, such as grandparent. As for legal issues such as liability, they sign a document & state who is allowed to take them to an event.

B West    |    Aug 14, 2014 05:48 AM

We used to run to "late buses" for each of our 3 high schools. In PA we have to provide transportation to private schools with 10 miles of our borders. A private school parent wanted a "late bus" for their child after their private school sports practices. They made a big deal about it, as we would have had to provide it for them because we did it for our district students. Result: All "late bus" service canceled. It would have open a "can of worms", and then every private school would have request a "late bus" As far as field trips, we bill the schools for them. We have an in district rate & an out of district rate. However, sports does not get charged, and it comes out of transportation's budget. We do over three thousand sports & field trips a year!

K. Matteson    |    Aug 31, 2014 07:43 AM

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