Beachwood’s middle school and high school students could be sharing the same bus next year.
Superintendent Rich Markwardt proposed to the Board of Education Monday changes to this school year’s bus routes that he said would serve the students better while raising efficiency for the district’s transportation department.
The changes would also lengthen day by nearly an hour and change the other schools’ arrival and dismissal times by a few minutes, as displayed in the photo to the right.
Markwardt acknowledged the rift between the bus drivers and the school district that peaked in 2010 when the school contracted a private transportation company who hired the Beachwood drivers.
At the beginning of the 2011-2012 school year, the district’s busing was problematic, with tardiness marking the first few days of school.
Around the same time, the drivers filed an unfair labor suit against the district and hiring the drivers and managing the department internally again.
“Last year we got off to a very, very lurching start and our community deserves better than that,” he said.
Both Markwardt and Allan Bobincheck, the president of the newly formed Beachwood Union of Support Staff said that, today, the relationship between the district and the drivers is collaborative.
Markwardt added that the drivers helped identify inefficiencies in the routes that led to this plan.
The changes would mean shorter routes — with a goal of 40 minutes each, down from an hour for some routes and 45 minutes for others.
Markwardt said that the district separated the busing for middle and high school students in 2007, when sixth-graders began attending instead of elementary schools.
Parents were concerned about sixth-graders riding the bus with the high school students, he added.
Assistant Director of Transportation Lisa Brockwell drove a Beachwood bus prior to 2007 and asserted that the middle school students behaved better when they rode with high school students.
Assistant Principal Paul Chase said that he had six disciplinary referrals for misbehavior on the bus this year.
The district was already considering lengthening the school day at Bryden, said Markwardt, and it fit well with the revamped transportation routes.
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