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Keep it LOCAL...Field trip policy under study

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By Thomas Barr

 SHEPHERDSVILLE — As a former bus driver, Roger Hayes knows some of the frustrations felt by members of the Bullitt County Public School’s transportation system.

As a former principal, he also understands the concerns of finding affordable transportation for trips.

One concern the new school board member recently voiced was the use — or lack of it — of regular bus drivers for field trips.

Hayes said he understands some of the issues which make it difficult to have local drivers transport schools on field trips and to sporting events.“But I wish we could do something,” said Hayes.

Superintendent Keith Davis said the issue has been studied in the past.

If it is a regular bus driver who goes over 40 hours in a week, overtime must be paid, said Davis.

And schools want to know the cost of transportation when planning a field trip. Davis said that depending on the driver’s rate of pay and whether or not it will involve overtime, that flat amount is difficult to secure.

If the school board wants, a policy could be imposed to require local drivers to handle area trips. However, Davis warned, it would be more expensive.

Hayes would like to see if the school system could develop some type of flat fee, which is the pricing done by outside commercial vendors.

He also understood the issue of whether buses would be done in time to handle the normal routes at the end of the day.

Board member Dolores Ashby, who has been on the district’s transportation committee, said this is a topic that is always discussed.

But no solution has been found.Hayes said he just felt it would be best to keep the money paid for transportation in the county as much as possible. He said that helps everyone when the money stays local.

He offered to work with the transportation system on looking for some solutions.

Staci Goedde, the new transportation director, will be joined by finance officer Denise Smith, assistant superintendent Becky Sexton, principals Christy Coulter and David Pate, and Hayes on the committee to study the situation.

During Monday’s work session with the school board, the topics was discussed.

The topic went from the cost of field trips for the students to the safety of those who go on the trips.In the Bullitt County system, Hayes said he knows the buses are routinely inspected and he knows the quality of the drivers.

However, when outside carriers are used, Hayes said there is no way the district can know about the condition of the buses or the experience or background of the drivers.

Davis said the companies are supposed to follow the state requirements in terms of inspections but there is no way the district would know that.

Sexton said having a set rate for field trips could be feasible but it must be checked out to see if that could legally be done. Hayes said some of the longer field trips or athletic trips may not be feasible for local drivers to handle. And he understood the issue of seniority and the differences in pay.

“It’s a rock and a hard place situation,” Hayes admitted.

Of course, he also said that his belief is that some money to drive a field trip is better than no money. He felt some drivers would agree to take a lower than normal rate to drive a field trip and others wouldn’t. But he hoped some solution would be possible.

“I’d rather keep the money local,” said Hayes.

Sexton said a survey of other districts is being done to see how they handle field trips.

No meeting date has been set yet for the field trip committee.