Public school eyes shift in shuttle agreement with St. Mary
August 19. 2014 12:20PM
Students at St. Mary High School who take some courses at the public school might be on their own this year when it comes to getting from one school to the other.
For years students at the Dell Rapids Catholic School have been bused to the public school where they take classes that aren’t offered by St. Mary. But rising transportation costs and a staff shortage in the Dell Rapids School District’s transportation department have local education officials reassessing the two-school partnership.
Dell Rapids School Board members made it clear last week that they wish to continue allowing St. Mary students to take classes at the public school. However, board members want St. Mary to pick up the tab for hauling students from one school to the next, about $53 per day plus fuel and maintenance costs for vehicles. Last year, St. Mary paid the school district $8 per day in transportation fees.
Dell Rapids Superintendent Summer Schultz said at the board’s meeting Monday, Aug. 11 because transportation director Jeff Schmidt, who last year shuttled students back and forth, shouldn’t be expected to perform that task. Rather, an additional employee needs to be hired in order to continue busing students back and forth, she said.
“Every so often he gets disrupted to go do the shuttle. And if you figure some of the (classes) are 45 minutes, it can be he just gets back and then go again,” she said.
Dell Rapids Board of Education member Matt Weiland said he’s OK with continuing to let St. Mary use public school buses for an $8 a day fee if it covers the cost of new employee.
“I think (Schmidt) shouldn’t have to deal with it,” he said. “My personal opinion is to say that we’re going to end it unless they provide a driver.”
Hiring an employee specifically to drive the shuttle poses challenges of its own, Schultz said.
“They’d have to be OK with (being available) for six hours (per day) but only working three,” she said.
Schultz said the administration at St. Mary is understanding of the district’s cost concerns and St. Mary Principal Brad Peters was receptive to the idea of allowing students to drive themselves from one school to the other.
“He would work it out with his board to get them to be able to drive,” Schultz said.
Peters did not return phone calls requesting comment.