District 96 considers bus-switching rules
Updated: September 10, 2012 6:04AM
For parents of bus-riding students in Kildeer-Countryside Elementary District 96, if your child wants to go home on a friend’s bus at some point during the upcoming school year, you will have to notify the principal first.
And hope that the principal is in the mood to be flexible.
“Our principals have very good judgment,” and Julie Schmidt, superintendent, said the decision of whether to allow a student to leave school on a route other than the one that takes that student home needed to be a building-level decision.
The School Board took this discussion up at the recent meeting, touching on logistics needs, liability concerns and being helpful to families. A parent may want the child to leave school on a bus that goes by a friend’s birthday party or sleepover, another parent’s house or a team’s game — but while some District 96 buildings have few routes to juggle, others are bused entirely and have a harder time keeping track of which child should be going where.
“The procedure at Prairie (School) can’t be the same as the procedure at Country Meadows (School),” Schmidt said, “the volume is completely different.”
The district’s policy of requiring parents to either send a written request or call the building’s administrative assistant in advance has “been in place forever,” Schmidt said…but “it’s been inconsistently enforced.”
Several board members lamented the disorder that has resulted.
“It’s only for emergencies at Prairie, but it’s not for emergencies at Ivy Hall (School),” said Lauren Gorden. “You have a double standard.”
Renee Klass said the principals had a tough assignment in deciding when to grant bus variations.
“They want to discourage it, but they have discretion,” she said.
And James Strezewski pointed out this insurance nightmare: A parent requests a child leave school on a different bus route, the principal approves, the bus gets in an accident, the child gets hurt, the parent sues.
“Your standard language has to cover your liability,” Strezewski said. “Otherwise we have a big problem.”
Also recently, Board President Marc Tepper said that new technology may be able to help parents and the district get the kids where they need to be. District 96, Aptakisic-Tripp Elementary District 102 and Stevenson High School share the same buses, and Stevenson started equipping those buses last year with ZPass, a system of electronic sensors that register students’ identification cards as they get on a bus. The system can log that information so that officials can read which kids are on which bus, and where their buses are.
“It’s an additional safety level,” he said of the sensors.