Some out-of-district students could ride buses to school with proposed policy

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 16, 2015

EAST SPENCER — Before the year is over, Rowan-Salisbury School System students attending a school out of his or her assigned district could, in select cases, be allowed to ride a school bus to and from classes.

Currently, the system doesn’t allow students to ride school buses to and from classes if he or she attends a school in another district. During the school board’s Monday meeting at the system’s East Spencer office, members discussed whether to allow select students to ride buses to out of district schools. The discussed exemption, brought up by board member Travis Allen, would only allow a student to ride a bus if a route already passes the student’s house.

Allen mentioned the idea as part of a specific circumstance where an unnamed student lived in the South Rowan High School district, attended Carson High School because of an approved application, but couldn’t ride a bus because of a predetermined rule. Allen said the student was “out of district by a couple hundred yards” and lives in a location where the bus regularly passes in front of his family’s house.

Allen questioned whether the system would allow the student to ride the school bus each day to Carson. Discussion amongst school board members specifically focused on a case were a bus already passes in front of a student’s house and a seat is available. It quickly expanded to a system-wide discussion.

The school board didn’t vote on a policy change. Instead, Chairman Josh Wagner suggested to the school system’s staff that a sample policy be presented at the next business meeting — set for Sept. 28 at 5 p.m.

When talking about the situation, Allen stressed that the bus already passed by the student’s house and said the school system should “go out of our way to help parents in a situation like this.” He said the situation was a matter of customer service, and a small way the school system could show it was serving the community in the way it was supposed to.

School system Transportation Director Tim Beck, however, called the situation a “slippery slope.” Beck said bus routes often change during the school year based on whether students decide to stop riding the bus.

“If things change, then we may be going out of the way,” Beck said, referencing the Carson High student.

Beck said a large number of Rowan-Salisbury School System students could be affected by a policy that allowed out-of-district students to ride a bus to classes. Carson, in particular, has a large number of students who technically live out of district, Beck said.

Board member Richard Miller questioned whether allowing one out-of-district student to ride school buses could allow others to reasonably request the same consideration.

Superintendent Dr. Lynn Moody said the school system doesn’t currently allow any student to be bused out of district because of available funding.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246.