With much of student bullying occurring on buses, the Cleveland Hill School District is introducing a program called “Peaceful Busing” that aims to promote better riding experiences.
“This is our attempt to create a positive culture on the school bus,” said Patrick McCabe, principal of Cleveland Hill Elementary, during Wedenesday night’s School Board meeting.
The program hopes to establish a schoolwide team, train bus drivers and inform parents about transportation issues. It also wants to get elementary school students and drivers on each route to meet three times a year in a group environment. The meetings are designed to build personal relationships between drivers and bus riders, as well as address bullying issues.
Those buses that perform well in the program will receive some type of award. McCabe said he hopes to begin training sessions in November.
Bullying remains a hot topic in schools. A Rochester-area bus aide was bullied by students earlier this year on camera, and the video went viral nationwide. If Cleveland Hill succeeds with its program, it would avoid a similar social media controversy.
“If the driver has high expectations and says, ‘We’re not moving until you’re in your seats,’ the problems go away,” McCabe said.
The board also heard a report from representatives of an independent firm that audited the district. The auditors gave the district a mostly clean report but noted it currently runs a fund balance of 8 percent of its budget, while the state recommends schools keep their savings at no more than 4 percent.
Cleveland Hill officials explained that keeping a larger fund balance allows the district flexibility to deal with unexpected expenses and fiscal cuts. It also allows Cleveland Hill to maintain its credit rating.
“If we didn’t have the fund balance that we had, the [state aid] cuts for our programs would have been devastating,” said Superintendent Jon MacSwan.