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Shuttles backed for K4 students

Option cheaper than direct busing

Nov. 10, 2009

Menomonee Falls — The School Board will have to decide on next year's busing plan for 4-year-old kindergartners, but likely won't until after it votes on an elementary school redistricting plan.

Administrators on Monday proposed two busing plans, but are endorsing one.

The endorsed plan calls for K4 students riding the bus to and from their neighborhood schools. Valley View, Riverside and Shady Lane K4 students then would take a shuttle bus with a teacher's aide to or from Ben Franklin, depending on whether they are in the morning or afternoon session.

Human Resources Director Patti Keller said the aides would add a level of comfort for parents.

"I think I would feel better as a parent if I knew there was another adult on the bus," she said.

This option allows all K4 students to ride with their siblings.

The transportation would add about 10 to 15 minutes to travel times for some students and cost the district about $7,000 for shuttle buses.

Superintendent Keith Marty said the district uses a three-tiered busing system with different school start times at the various levels, so there aren't any 40-minute rides - a concern of many parents.

Keller said the longest bus ride currently is 27 minutes and would remain about the same, even to transport a K4 student to and from Ben Franklin using the shuttle. Keller cautioned that things like weather or a new driver could lengthen ride times.

Ben Franklin K4 students would be supervised until their classmates join them.

The other option calls for separate buses transporting Valley View, Riverside and Shady Lane K4 students to and from Ben Franklin.

Keller said this would create an inequity among the elementary schools as only Ben Franklin K4 students could ride with their siblings. It would add about five to 10 minutes to travel times for some students and cost the district up to $84,000 for additional buses.

Students one mile or more away from Ben Franklin are eligible for busing. Students less than a mile away either walk or have other transportation.

The board will vote on the administration's final plan to change elementary school boundaries at its meeting Nov. 23. The plan includes moving 252 students out of Ben Franklin. Riverside would take 136 students, Valley View 116. Shady Lane would take 109 students from Riverside to make room for the Ben Franklin transfers.

The plan also calls for the suspension of intra-district student transfers with the exception of special needs students, and shuffling the nonresident, Chapter 220 and Open Enrollment, students to equalize the number of those students at each school.

The board's decision in May to open an early childhood/4-year-old kindergarten education center at Ben Franklin in 2010-11 is making a change to the boundary lines necessary. The board's goal with the redistricting is to create three-section schools at Valley View, Riverside and Shady Lane and a four-section school at Ben Franklin. The consolidated K4 program would save the district about $300,000 a year. The one-time cost to create a K4 center at Ben Franklin is about $650,000.

Marty said the district is committed to the new boundaries for at least six years - so current elementary students would not be affected twice by a move.

Next Step

WHAT: School Board vote on elementary school redistricting plan

WHEN: 7 p.m. Nov. 23

WHERE: Community Center, N8645 Margaret Road

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