West Branch schools to restore 2-tier busing

BELOIT — The West Branch School District will return to its regular transportation plan from previous years.

Schools Superintendent Timothy Saxton reported at the school board meeting Thursday night the board has instructed him to reinstate busing from all students on a two-tier system, meaning separate routes for the elementary and middle/high school, beginning this fall. The school board last month had reinstated busing for all students on a one-tier system, meaning students in kindergarten through 12 would have been transported at the same time.

Board members said Transportation Supervisor Sherri Malloy explained that a one-tier system would have required five additional bus drivers and even with the new drivers not receiving benefits, the additional wages would have been approximately $80,000. The additional wages meant the savings by using a one-tier system would be relatively insignificant, boardmember John Wallace said.

The board also had to consider the shortage in drivers across the area and the wages being offered by the district, they said.

Board President Mikki Kanagy noted that student safety remains the top priority for the board, while board member Karen Rice said the board also wants to make sure all students get to school without being a burden on parents.

The board in January reduced busing to the state minimum, eliminating transportation for students in grades nine through 12 and those living within two driving miles of their assigned building, after voters in November rejected a levy attempt to generate $850,000 to battle a spending deficit. After voters rejected the same levy in May, the board made cuts to staff to make up the deficit.



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