Reviving school bus service in Atwater on board agenda

dyawger@mercedsunstar.comMarch 26, 2013 

— Students may get some of their school buses back, depending on the outcome of tonight's special meeting of the Merced Union High School District board of trustees.

The board has scheduled a 4:30 p.m. meeting today in the Atwater High School library. The main agenda item is restoration of student transportation, continued from the board's March 13 meeting.

District Superintendent Scott Scambray confirmed Tuesday that trustees will study an administrative recommendation that could include at least partial restoration of bus service.

He declined to be more specific until the board has a chance to see the recommendations.

Leonard Kahn, assistant superintendent for business services, said he is optimistic that an acceptable solution can be reached to last year's major cutback of bus transportation. He said all interested parties have worked well together.

Kahn said one of the options will include partial restoration of bus services, which were pared back nearly a year ago. Students who live within five miles of high school campuses in Merced, Atwater and Livingston must walk to school.

Trustee Dora Crane was hopeful.

"I'm feeling good about the meeting," Crane said. "It's another chance to listen to parents. I'm hoping we will have some resolution to the busing issue."

Along with retrenching bus service to students living five miles or less from their schools, board action a year ago saw 15 bus drivers lose their jobs.

Later in the spring, nearly all the displaced bus drivers were offered other jobs within the district.

Trustees also are scheduled to ratify a 2010-13 contract between the district and the union representing classified or nonteaching employees, California School Employees Association Chapter 252.

The CSEA group also represents school bus drivers who were being asked to modify their contract to permit part-time driving positions.

Reporter Doane Yawger can be reached at (209) 385-2407 or dyawger@mercedsunstar.com.

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