East Aurora school officials are doing some troubleshooting after scheduling and busing changes led to some longer bus runs for younger students at the start of the new school year.
"We've been fielding some phone calls from Parkdale Elementary parents and are working through transportation issues," Superintendent Brian Russ said Wednesday night. "Given such dramatic changes, with [high school] scheduling and busing, opening has gone relatively smooth, but a number of students are walking to school more than in the past. We are having some issues with long bus runs."
Russ updated the School Board on the matter, noting that the district is still working on ways to shorten bus runs for the younger students.
This year's new academic schedule at the high school has impacted busing. Two different starting times were implemented at the high school due to a change in course offerings. Some students wanted an extra class, and some wanted electives, some of which had to be cut in budget trims, so 325 of the students are coming in earlier.
The first round of high schoolers is bused with Middle School students, and then a second round of busing has Parkdale Elementary School students on buses with the remaining high school students.
As a result, elementary school children living in the village are ending up on longer bus rides of perhaps 40 to 50 minutes total, compared with what typically had been a 15- to 20- minute ride in past years, Russ said. The mixed busing is an issue only in the mornings.
"They're getting to school on time, but we're just trying to shorten their rides," Russ said after the board meeting. "Some of the parents were concerned about them riding with high school students, but I haven't had any reports [of problems]."
In other matters, the School Board approved this year's annual professional performance review plan to begin a state-required new teacher/administrator evaluation system. Board approval followed the East Aurora Faculty Association's ratification of the plan earlier Wednesday by a vote of 109 to 4.
"It has been a daunting task," Russ said of crafting what's known as the APPR, which is 61 pages long. "I think in the long run, we'll be able to work with it. But it's just a little overwhelming."
The board also welcomed Christine Cutler as its new director of curriculum and instruction, personnel and chief information officer.
The board formally appointed her at a $90,000 salary but has not yet specified her starting date.
Cutler will succeed R. Brad Gibson in the post, which had been designated as an assistant superintendent position rather than a director.
Gibson had retired at the end of the school year but was brought back over the summer at a daily rate of $468.29 and will be working through Sept. 28.
"She comes to us with excellent experience in the areas of curriculum and instruction," Russ said of Cutler.
Cutler is the staff development specialist at Erie 2 Board of Cooperative Educational Services for Chautauqua-Cattaraugus and Southern Erie County. She has worked in that position for 6½ years.
Cutler previously taught elementary grades in the Akron and Williamsville school districts, and also has been a teacher for gifted and talented programs.