School bus changes coming for Rocky Heights
by Carin Kirkegaard
Rocky Heights Middle School (RHMS) students will need to set alarm clocks a little earlier next fall. As part of the Douglas County School District (DCSD) budget cuts, the high school and middle school bus routes will be combined for RHMS and Rock Canyon High School (RCHS).
There are many questions and concerns from the community about the upcoming changes. RHMS students already riding the bus say that the buses, in some cases, are already full with three kids to seat. With combining the bus routes, where would all the students sit?
Currently, DCSD provides transportation to 1,800 students per day on 331 buses. The buses transporting RHMS and RCHS students are 77 seat buses and hold 65 kids. On the bus, high school students are expected to sit two students to a seat and middle school students are expected to sit three to a seat.
According to DCSD Chief Operating Officer, Steve Herzog, bus Route changes will be neighborhood and route specific. In cases where a bus is already filled with middle school students, that particular bus will not be combined with a high school bus.
Parents are also voicing concerns about having sixth graders riding the bus with high school seniors.
“I am concerned with the mixing of older and younger kids on a bus. I know that the younger kids always look up to the older ones and will want to emulate them and this is not always good. But, catching a bus to school is more and more becoming a privilege not a right, so I suppose it is a fix to an under-funded school system,” said Kelly Durie a mother of an RHMS student.
“Combined busing is not a new concept and is already used within districts across the state including DCSD,” said Herzog. In cases where the routes are already combined, the older kids sit in the back and the younger kids sit in the front. “For the most part, older kids don’t interact with the younger kids,” continued Herzog.
Where to catch the bus, in some cases, will also change in the 2009-2010 school year. In some cases, the bus routes in the Castle Pines community stop along streets and in front of resident’s homes. Next year stops will be combined to a central location like fire houses, recreation centers, and schools. The number of students is going to grow at bus stops with the elimination of 32 routes across the county. Having a centralized public spot will prevent concerns from residents that don’t want 30 kids waiting for the bus in front of their house. A public bus stop location will also allow for better parking availability for parents driving and dropping their students at the bus stop.
With the failure of the election bonds and the current economic condition of the state, the DCSD needs to trim $2.6 million from transportation alone. By combining bus routes, there will be a savings of more than $1 million, continued Herzog.
The DCSD will be hosting community meetings to share the preliminary bus routes for the upcoming school year. The meetings are designed to allow parents an opportunity to provide feedback with DCSD. There will be representatives from school district transportation on hand to answer questions.
April 15 – Mountain Ridge Middle School, 10590 Mountain Vista Ridge, Highlands Ranch
April 16 – Cresthill Middle School, 9195 Cresthill Lane, Highlands Ranch
April 22 – Sagewood Middle School, Fox Sparrow Road, Parker
April 23 – Castle Rock Middle School, Meadows Boulevard, Castle Rock