USD 489 to consider options for busing middle school students

Hays Post

In response to concerns from working parents, USD 489 staff said they will consider other options regarding busing middle schools kids home.

During the audience participation portion of Monday’s school board meeting, Hays parent Rhiannon Maier asked the board to return to last year’s busing process in which middle school students were transported to drop-off locations at an elementary school in their neighborhood.

In May, the board voted to no longer bus students who live within 2.5 miles of their school.

Personnel transactions, Aug. 18

Maier said she lives about 1.9 miles from the Hays Middle School and does not feel it is safe for her seventh-grader to walk home in an unfamiliar neighborhood in the heat and cold.

“I really feel we have taught our kids, in their own communities, to be safe and to know the safe houses they can go to if there are problems along the way,” Maier said. “I would ask the board to reconsider busing those students back to their local school to walk home.”

Superintendent Dean Katt said district staff has received phone calls from other parents who are concerned as well, especially from middle school parents.

Director of Curriculum Shanna Dinkel said she has also heard concerns from parents because unlike, elementary school, after-school care is not available for middle school students who are not involved in after-school activities.

Board member Sarah Rankin asked Maier is she would be willing to pay a fee for busing her child home if the district was not able to come up with the funds to provide the service.

“I enrolled three kids (in USD 489) at almost $700. What is another fee for their safety?” Maier asked.

Superintendent Dean Katt said the administration will look at the issue and possible “options.”

  • Hays, America

    Land of the FEE!

  • guest

    You are transporting students from one school to another. There shouldn’t be a fee. On another note, who decided that 2.5 miles should be the distance cut off? Have the people who decided that distance walked that before or after school? And I’m not talking “when I was a kid”, I mean currently and locally. I fully agree there should be a limitation, I’m just wondering if we have the correct one in place.

    • Mr. X

      The 2.5 miles is state law. You people on here want everything for nothing. Why doesn’t the BOE just bus every kid to and from school? I cannot believe that when you enroll your child in school that you do not get a vehicle to drive them back and forth. This BOE has their priorities out of whack. I cannot believe it costs a parent $1.68 a day to educate their child. This is an absurd number. How can we continue to have the highest paid administrators and teachers if you dead beat parents are not willing to step up and pay for your children. Want, want, want, but the people in this town do not want to pay for it.

      I know the sports will be brought up again. Sports are not necessary. The BOE should just cut them out. Fine arts is a credit requirement for a high school diploma in Kansas. This could be accomplished by having only one choir course at Hays High School. I am not saying this is good for our schools. I think the same can be said about eliminating sports. However, if the BOE needs to cut, this could be the next area as the BOE cannot touch the sacred salaries and benefits of the administrators and teachers.

      Guest, where does the BOE come up with the money to fund your proposal? I think everyone should not just complain about this or that not being funded. That is easy. You should also figure out how much your pet project is going to cost and where the money to pay for it will come from. Then you will be ready to start your run for the BOE next year.

      I hear everyone applauding all of the “ideas” on here, but I hear very little in the way of coming up with reasonable ideas for paying them.

      • guest

        Calm yourself, my goodness. I personally don’t feel there should be a fee to transport a child from one school to another. That is my opinion. As far as the feasibility of it, I don’t know. If I were in the position of needing my child bussed, I would pay a fee if it was that or nothing. And nowhere did I say we should bus all of the students. I don’t think we should. I think the bussing has been taken advantage of for years and I’m glad to see changes, but a 2 mile trek across town I think is a bit much.

      • Think about it

        FINELY! A commenter with common sense. And, no, sports are not necessary, but they do provide a positive influence on the majority involved. It is something to work towards for them. And even though it is a SPORT, participators are still learning. Obviously the anti-sports people would not have a clue. Also, to all of the negative commenters on here and the people who think sports is the reason we don’t have a gazillion buses running kids around in this town all day long, I suggest you think about the repercussions this town (and your school district) would endure if sports (and other extracurricular activities) were eliminated. At that point, I guarantee that you will be complaining on another level as the town’s population WILL decrease and in order to make up for the decrease, everything you pay for will increase. You want to see empty buildings, then please by all means eliminate sports. And happy thoughts to you tonight while you praise yourself for coming up with a way to save money (by eliminating sports) because all you did was ruin a great town. Because, yes, if you haven’t noticed, individuals/people/families flock to a town because of what the town OFFERS and if a town 90 miles away offers more than what this town does, you can bet people will go. In closing, what piano or art or journalism does for your child; football or basketball or tennis, does the same for mine. Think about it: if you eliminate sports, then the school district will be forced to eliminate all things “extra”, that are not required. Is that really what you want?

        • Cast your vote.

          Please refrain from using common sense on this site. It only confuses and angers others. Also, your opinion about sports is not welcome here since it is pro sports funding and not pay for play.

          Remember, if we could move away from funding sports and make people pay directly for it, the district would be able to take that 500k and put it into things that are considered by a vocal minority to outweigh anything else.

          The school system is there to teach your child academics and nothing else. Teamwork, sportsmanship, persistence, leadership, etc… are not our district’s responsibility to teach our children through sports participation or any other means unless you physically hand money from your hand into the district’s hand for them to do so.

          Paying for it through taxes is not acceptable any longer.

          The current board’s days are numbered because a groundswell of support for removing athletics from this district is rising. They will sweep the current members from their spots and replace them with like minded individuals who will enact their plan.

        • Tina

          Think of the repercussions then of continuing to fund sports to no end like it will really matter when they graduate and need to find a job. Sure….lets just fire teachers, freeze their wages, eliminate tenure, don’t pay them for unused sick days-hire a sub instead, and give them cut rate insurance. We can also jack up enrollment to where parents need to take out a small loan in August. But of course you sports nuts will think that’s fine as long as all sports are free and available and the coaches are top notch.

  • Changes for the worse

    What is sad is the fact that those with 3 kids had to pay $700 to $900 depending on the school just to enroll. Factor in school supplies and lunches and that’s a small fortune. What is with the BOE? For those that would like busing in town, you can thank the failure to reduce the sports budget and the failure to have them pay any fee to play for lack of money. Want education-you better save up your money as they are gonna make you pay big time. Want to play football-not a problem-here’s your free sign up form and we’ll get you the nice FHSU stadium to play in and no expense spared on helmets, uniforms, and a paid to win coach. Let’s get education back to where it should be BOE.

    • Cast your vote.

      You should get elected to the BOE and eliminate sports funding. This way we could have everything we want!

      • Jamie

        I would vote for someone if they were willing to just that.

        • Cast your vote.

          Why vote for someone to do it, you should run too!

  • Jenny Leiker

    I hope the district will consider this option. Often times I am unable to leave work when school is out and my son must cross 27th, Vine and 22nd to get home. If he could bus to Roosevelt, then it would just be 4 blocks and much safer. I know many other parents are in the same situation.

    • Fed up

      Don’t count on anything sensible being considered. Only options on the table are increasing enrollment fees next year. At some point, college tuition will seem like a bargain.

    • real parents

      Many, many parents are transporting our own kids to and from school. Most of us have jobs too. What makes you so special? It’s your responsibility…not ours! We do not want even higher fees next year because you feel special! Check out taxi service, and van services like Precious cargo.

      • Jenny Leiker

        I personally would be willing to pay extra for the option. I cannot speak for others.

      • Middle school parent too

        Why do you have to be so rude, “real parents”? She never made any claim to being a special case. She merely stated that she can’t leave her workplace all the time and thought it was a good idea that they do this. They have been busing the kids back and forth from the middle school to elementary schools in past years up until this school year. I live in the Roosevelt school area too and they have been doing it as long as I have lived in the area. I definitely wouldn’t want my child crossing all those busy streets to walk home either. The fact they have done away with that busing this year has caused so much extra traffic and no traffic control in the area of the middle school now. I never minded taking or picking up my kid at the school but dread it with a passion now and I hope they start doing this again. Some parents just can’t leave work to get their children like other parents. If you don’t know anything about this situation, keep your rude comments to yourself. Busing or not busing kids back and forth IS NOT going to get the district out of the big ole mess they are in. Promises of lower fees next year? Yeah probably not going to happen either and you are a fool if you think this is going to change. Go ahead and ask relatives and friends that don’t live in this district what their enrollment fees were. Better yet, don’t, it will make you sick to your stomach.

    • Commentor

      Have to give you props for using your own name! Most of us “smart” people on here use a name we can hide behind, so no one knows it is us. Then we proceed to tell people how smart we are, and how dumb they are. Oh and don’t forget…to post on here you must start with “If they would get rid of sports” haha. Thank you for having more courage than I!

      • Jenny Leiker

        Yeah, I did notice how all the people that have super nasty things to do are very brave when they don’t use their name! :)

        • Jenny Leiker

          I meant to say, not do :)

  • LifelongHaysCitizen

    I have kids, and I don’t like them walking very far in Hays. It feels too risky to trust my kids to any stranger that happens to see them. But, I also feel like it’s my responsibility to get them to and from school, not the district’s. I came from a family where both parents worked, so they came up with several ways to get kids to school. We rode the bus from Felten to Roosevelt for a couple years, and that was very handy. If I remember correctly, the district allowed us to ride to another school that was on the bus’s route anyway, but they wouldn’t drop us at our house or a school not on the route. There were a couple years that my parents carpooled with other families who could pick up kids after school, and they dropped kids off in the morning in exchange. An option we didn’t have way back then was public transportation, but now kids could take Access or one of the taxis. All that being said, I would gladly pay a fee to have my kids ride the school bus from high/middle school to an elementary school closer to home. Perhaps a punch card system could work. Make cards available for purchase at each school, and leave it up to kids and parents to monitor how many punches are left. All drives would have to do is punch the cards as kids get on. Kids on reduced or free lunches could have the same discount applied to a bus pass. Another thought – perhaps an enterprising stay-at-home parent or retired grandparent with a large vehicle could cart kids around for a small fee. Additionally, one of the public transportation services in town could see this as an opportunity to increase revenue.

  • guest

    Why not offer after school care at the middle school? Charge a fee just like at the elementary schools.

  • me

    It’s not the schools responsibility to get your child home! It’s the parent’s responsibility!! So parents you need to find a way to get your child home.

  • Concerned Parent

    Thank you for considering this!!

    I have one at the Middle school and one at Roosevelt. For my Middle schooler to walk to Roosevelt to pick up his sister it takes about 30-40 minutes. So my little one has to sit outside for a good 20-30 minutes till he gets there and they can walk home (which is only a block away from Roosevelt!). Last year was so nice with the bus from HMS to Roosevelt, he was there when they got out and walked home. Not all of us can take a lunch at 3pm to pick up kids. When we bought our house one major factor was close to an elementary school, knowing they had busses from the Middle School to the elementary school. I know I paid a lot to enroll my kids (why more than we should!) but if need be I would pay a fee (within reason) to get my middle schooler back home!

    • Hays Citizen

      To: Think About It: I think the word you are trying to spell is ‘Finally.’ ‘Finely’ means to chop something into small pieces.

  • Hays Parent/USD 489 Employee

    It’s not really fair to do busing just for middle school students. It really doesn’t solve the problem for families that have kids at 2 or 3 different schools. If the busing need is real people will pay a fee for it, if they aren’t willing to they probably don’t need it that bad.
    If having a fee isn’t an option the middle school could start an after school study hall/care. There are a lot of college students looking for part time jobs that would be willing to work a couple hours after school 5 days a week.
    What we really need to do is pay more attention to who we’re voting for. If you vote for people that don’t have common sense or couldn’t care less about public education this is one of the side effects. Our teachers have been trying to work with less and less every year. They do amazing at it but that doesn’t mean they should keep getting less. Now it’s starting to carry over into other areas such as busing and people are upset because they have to drive their kids to school. Pay more attention to what is going on with your kids during school, you may be shocked. Vote smart and get involved in your children’s education. Go to a home and school/pta meeting. It’s an eye opener for sure.

    • Mark G.

      I agree it is not fair to do it for one and not the others. It also floors me how everything on this board constantly turns to sports. Seriously there cannot be one post concerning USD 489 on here that doesn’t have someone try to blame all the districts problems on them. Now the really funny part to all this is that if any of you actually paid any attention at all to the board meeting you would have seen that one of the board members (I believe it was Bickle) actually brought sports up and wanted them put on the next agenda to go over all costs associated with them including salaries, bussing etc. to get a clear picture what the district actually pays as well as discuss what cuts have been made to the programs and what cuts can be made. Funny how all the people griping about sports completely missed that. Must be easier to just complain about them.

      • Concerned

        Discussing the sports budget, technically, doesn’t do anything. They discussed adding a pay to play fee, but that failed to happen. Let me tell you what DID happen. They increased enrollment big time. A lot of people have multiple kids in school so do the math and you are approaching a grand just for 3 kids. Legislation was passed many many years ago requiring some form of schooling for kids under 18 (private, public, or home school). No where does it say it required a full sports program or that taxpayers should pay for a sports program. However, our district thinks it has to have perfectly sodded soccer fields, use of a college football stadium, full sports offerings, multiple support sport staff like coaches/assistant coaches/managers/etc, and to not ever think of cutting their pay, add in 7th grade sports, not have players pay any kind of participation fee, bus them all over KS for games with bus maintenance/fuel/bus driver fees added in, all at the expense of education lately. So yes, it is easier to complain about sports. They are giving a lot of us plenty of fuel.

        • Commentor

          Actually, there was an activity fee for 50.00. Sports are an activity. Just as choir, band, orchestra, math relays, electric car races, debate, etc. In general, anything that is fun or challenging to students is an activity. Thus, 50.00 is paid and it goes into the activity fee.

          • Correction

            That is NOT a pay to play sports fee. That $50 fee is paid by every student no matter what you do in school. A pay to play fee is say you want to go out for football, you pay $25. If you don’t go out for football, than you don’t pay in $25.

          • Commentor

            Well, maybe they should have a pay to participate fee for everything that uses a bus or a teacher gets extra pay for, or they have a coach (as in debate), etc. My kid may not participate in any of those, so why should I HAVE to pay for them. Let’s just have required courses at school and nothing else. Then we can have all the kids out and about by 3:30. Let’s see what kind of mischief this would cause.

          • Parent ready for change

            The problem is, when it comes to tax dollars and money required at enrollment from parents, it should be the minimum. If you want to go out for something extra, like sports, than it shouldn’t be supported by taxpayers. It shouldn’t be supported by increasing enrollment fees. It should be self funded. Some form of education is required by law. Sports are not required by law. When the district is this short on cash, you need to buckle down and take care of education instead of firing teachers, sodding fields, hiring coaches, etc. We’re definitively going in the wrong direction. If we were short another million, would they maybe cancel all math classes so we could continue to have 7th grade track? Would we fire another teacher or eliminate a basketball assistant coach? Would we increase enrollment by $75 or add a pay to play sports fee? Get my point? The BOE would say heck, we can’t touch sports, let’s fire some more teachers, make enrollment $400 per child next year, and cancel some classes so that sports can stay free and fully intact.

          • Commentor

            You did not read what I said. I said, in general, make everyone pay for everything that is not required. It is not a requirement to go to competitions,for any classes, that are offered. I also made no suggestion at all, about “canceling math classes to have sports”. Where on earth did that idea even come from?? Your thinking is more than a little off. And if you aren’t aware, there are many fundraisers all the teams do for their sport to help out their programs. PS. I’m pretty sure no one needs schooling about “some form of education is required by law”. We all know that already.

          • Tammy

            Than why do people think having sports is a requirement? If money is tight, you cut what is NOT required, like sports. You try to leave funding in the required areas, like education. But as you will see from past BOE decisions, that has not been the case. The schools raise funds too, like cookie dough sales, to buy projectors and equipment the school doesn’t have money for. Enrollment is getting ridiculously expensive now. It’s time those that want to play a sport pay some to do so instead of putting that on the backs of taxpayers and tacking it on to enrollment fees.

          • Commentor

            What about providing computers for every student? Is that really necessary? It is not required. We have spent many millions on computers since the “fab five” burdened us with that expense. No one can say ,definitely, that they are making a difference in students education. For the first five years, at least, they weren’t even utilized properly. We still pay for text books for the kids to haul around, so they aren’t saving in that area. The majority of kids attending Hays High and most of the other schools, can afford their own or their family has a laptop they could use at school, if they really needed too. I am not saying that they should get rid of computers, but I am saying they could be more fiscally responsible with them. For instance, not getting new keyboard, mouse,and monitor when only a new tower is called for, on the desktops, etc. I have never personally heard anyone say sports are required. They are an extension of the classroom.They keep some kids in school and working on keeping their grades up so they can participate. I know all the schools in this district raise money for things that you would think would be covered by the budget. I have thought that was very puzzling for the last 20 years that I have had children in school. And still, we incorporated the laptop initiative and many other things since then. We can probably free up some money when we stop paying out the contracts for administrators that have been fired or asked to retire early…..

          • Concerned in Hays

            The laptops currently in use in USD489 were bought years ago. I’d say they have received a great return on the original investment. Anyone who says we should not be ‘computer literate’ needs to get with the program. Virtually any job in today’s world requires computer knowledge. It’s no different than requiring students know math, reading, science, etc. They provide the laptops so everyone has the same operating system, office package, etc so you don’t have issues with trying to show something to a student who only has office 2000 or a mac. Providing an education and the materials needed to do so are one thing. Shelling out millions for sports when we don’t even have money for the education portion doesn’t seem right. Plus taxpayers are getting fed up with such high property taxes when you see it going to rent the FHSU stadium, sod soccer fields, pay all these coaches and assistant coachers, add in extra sports, etc and then you read in the paper that due to there not being enough money, we are having to fire 16 teachers.

    • Parent

      The elementary schools have after school care that parents can use if they can not get to the school right after it lets out. The middle school does not offer this so that is a lot of the concerns that some of these parents are trying to relay here. Most parents are done working by the time the children have to be picked up from after school care so the need to ride a bus is not there. If the middle school offered some type of program like this, they probably wouldn’t have parents expressing a concern for the busing. I think the BOE needs to visit with other districts/schools and see how they are doing it because there doesn’t seem to be the issues that Hays has. They still run buses to get the children too and from school but most of all, the enrollment fees are only a quarter of what Hays has .. true fact!

      • Mr. X

        The board has done that and discussed this recently at a meeting. Pay and benefits in the top 5% in the state for administrators and teachers prevent spending money on the children. When these people want to bring their pay and benefits into line with a 4a school these problems might go away

        • Facts

          Teachers pay and benefits are NOT in the top 5% for KS. Quit spreading lies. Post a link if you really have the facts right. Otherwise, your comment means nothing.

  • Concerned parent

    Plain and simple. If the bus is already scheduled to go to the desired school….what is the big problem with allowing ANY student from ANY school to hop a ride? Afterall, the bus is already headed there. Its not like they are asking for a ride home!! After school care (middle school), punch cards, or a small reasonable fee are all good ideas. And obviously there is a need if there have been numerous calls regarding the subject.
    P.S. I dont have middle school students.