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Transportation cuts translate into longer bus rides for students

By Carol McIntire

Changes and cuts to the transportation department within Carrollton Schools was a top priority during the August Board of Education meeting last week.

The board approved abolishing the position of a bus driver for two afternoon routes effective Aug. 27 due to “severe financial conditions” and then removed Rae A. Speaker, the bus driver, from the payroll by approving a reduction in force. Speaker was hired as a part-time cafeteria cook later in the session.

Transportation Director Phil Rutledge, who attended the session to answer questions pertaining to bus routes, noted he has removed one bus from the route to Buckeye Joint Vocational School.

“We are going to try to make it work with one bus on the Buckeye route due to declining enrollment and the fact that a lot of the students drive themselves,” Rutledge said. “However, we do have a backup plan and if we need a second bus, we will have one available.”

He noted by taking away a bus it will save the district about $80,000.

“Just to let you know, in the nine years I’ve been here, we’ve cut the number of bus drivers from 35 to 18,” he said. “We have trimmed and trimmed until we can’t trim any more.”

He noted the buses still cover the same amount of territory as they have for many years; the changes are making for longer days for the students.

“What it means is that we have stretched the amount of time the students ride the buses. We have some students scheduled to get on the bus at 5:40 a.m. and some who ride the bus for an hour and 20 minutes,” he noted.

Other school officials in attendance said they have already received calls about the early pickup times for students.

“That makes for an awfully long day,” commented Board President Rose Seck.

“It may get worse if we don’t get a levy passed,” added Board Member Helen Skinner.

Superintendent Dave Quattrochi explained what Rutledge was doing in his department is part of a plan to reduce expenses by over $1 million.

“We overspent by $1.3 million in fiscal year 2013,” he said. “We have two options in this situation: 1.) We can ask the people to approve a levy, which we are doing, and 2.) We can cut expenses, which we are doing.”

Quattrochi noted Carrollton schools are gaining several students from Edison through open enrollment.

“We are looking at the possibility of taking a bus into Amsterdam to pick them up, but we will only look at the possibility after we have taken care of our own students,” he said. “I figure we need about three to four weeks to look at the needs of our students.”

Later in the meeting the board approved hiring four part-time cooks for the cafeteria and transferred $37,138.45 from the general fund to the cafeteria fund.

Along with Speaker, Samantha Martin, April Rogers and Paula Zippay were hired as cooks on a one-year limited contract. Treasurer Roxanne Mazur said the cooks will work three and one-half hours per day and will not qualify for benefits.

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