Fairlawn bus route changes to impact open enrollment students

By Jim Painter - For the Sidney Daily News

SIDNEY — Some parents of open enrollment students in the Fairlawn Local School District, who are currently transported by bus directly from their home to school, will now need to find an alternative plan.

On Thursday, the Fairlawn Board of Education unanimously approved new bus routes and rules that will eliminate home pick up of students residing outside the school district. The new standard will be implemented over the next few weeks.

The district currently has 292 open enrollment students, according to Treasurer Keith Doseck.

The vote was taken following public discussion with a parent against the change, and an executive session.

Stacy Davidson, who resides along State Route 47 with her family west of Port Jefferson, said children have been picked up in front of their home for the past two years. Feeling it was a personal affront, she questioned why the change was being made.

Davidson said she recently received a telephone call from Superintendent Jeff Hobbs indicating she and her husband had two to three weeks to find alternate transportation for their two children. They could either take their children to a designated bus stop in Port Jefferson or transport them to school themselves.

Hobbs reaffirmed to Davidson what he had indicated to her on the phone previously that it was a safety issue, and nothing more. He told of a difficult turnaround for the bus driver, and possibly driving across the edge of another private property.

He said that he and Elementary Principal John Stekli rode the route with the bus driver and verified the safety concerns.

Davidson said the pick ups have been done for two years and asked why the change now. Hobbs said he is new to the district and couldn’t account for previous decisions, but the same issues would have been in place over the past two years.

He added the regular bus driver may have experience maneuvering the turnaround more safely, but feared a substitute driver would not. He said the safety of students is the top priority.

Board President Andrew Brautigam said he was told by a bus driver that the Davidson pick up spot is dangerous.

In his report, Doseck said early reporting indicates the approximately same number of students are enrolled as last year. In all, there are 648 students enrolled, which includes 45 pre-kindergarten; 297 in grades k-5; and 306 in grades 6-12 (including 38 JVS students).

The summary report dated Aug. 23 has not been confirmed, according to Doseck. The enrollment figures will be used to determine state funding amounts for the district.

Nathan Sailor, Plant and Animal Science teacher, asked the board to consider installing a tiled area near the entrance of an 82-acre, school-owned farm field adjacent to the school. He spoke of large farm machinery having difficulty entering the field this summer.

Sailor also reported on a new 3-D printer and vinyl decal processing system used by students. Also, students used actual field results to compare corn and bean crop projections.

In other business, the board:

• Tabled action regarding switching graduation from May 20 to May 21.

• Hired Karen McRill as Junior Class Advisor with a pay rate of $1,645.

• Approved the employment of 26 substitute teachers at a rate of $80 per day.

By Jim Painter

For the Sidney Daily News

This writer is a regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News.

This writer is a regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News.