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Ohio County Schools To Spend $10,000 on Study To Optimize Bus Routes

photo by: Joselyn King

The Ohio County Board of Education boardroom fills with people at the start of Monday night’s meeting.

WHEELING – Ohio County Schools is making the next stop on its way to reassessing its bus routes in route to later start times at Wheeling Park High School.

Board of education members Monday night agreed to spend $10,000 on a “deep dive” study to optimize the school district’s bus routes to accommodate an 8:30 a.m. start time at WPHS. This is about a hour later than when first period now begins at the school.

The study will be conducted by Edulog, a provider of student transportation resource management software for school districts. The company is headquartered in Missoula, Montana.

Edulog will do research to determine how existing school routes in Ohio County can be reconfigured to accommodate a later start time at WPHS, how this will affect the start of the day at elementary and middle schools, and if additional buses and drivers will be needed, according to Ohio County Schools Director of Operations David Crumm.

He told board members the work can start as soon as the board provided to researchers needed parameters for their study. They needed to know the earliest a school day could start at each school, and the latest dismissal could take place at each building.

The board decided the day should start no earlier than 8 a.m. at elementary schools, between 8 a.m. and 8:15 a.m. at middle schools, and not before 8:30 a.m. at WPHS.

They decided none of the schools should keep students past 4 p.m.

Ohio County Schools presently operates 31 regular school buses each day, and these operate on a “tiered system” in which each bus travels two routes each morning and evening to transport children. Some actually do a third route, according to Crumm.

Edulog did a preliminary study last fall that determined a total of 56 buses would be needed in the school district if there were an earlier start time at WPHS. Each additional bus would cost $110,000, and additional drivers would have to be hired.

The deep dive study will do a more in-depth analysis of how bus routes can be reconfigured with less need for additional buses, Crumm explained.

In other matters, the board approved recommendations for the adoption of new science books for students in grades 6-12.

The move came with little fanfare despite the controversy following the 2021 purchase of language arts books in the school district. Some members of the public expressed issues with some of the books included in the language arts series, and some of the books were initially not used in the classrooms.

Walt Saunders, Assessment and Federal Programs Director, explained just six members from the public came to the board office to review the science books being considered, with one other requesting information via email.

The science books to be purchased will mostly be in digital form, and the books selected for each grade and class do not come from the same publisher or series.

The cost for the purchase will be determined after an exact number of books needed is determined, Saunders explained. He estimates the purchase of digital textbooks last year saved the district more than $106,000 over what would have been paid for hardback texts.

But board member Molly Aderholt asked if any provisions had been made to purchase some hardback books for students who might prefer to use them. She suggested maybe a survey should be done among teachers and students to determine which text they prefer.

“If any student would ever request a book for any reason, we can meet those needs,” Saunders said. “I don’t know if we’re looking at savings, but to me a $106,000 is a lot of money.”

He and WPHS principal Meredith Dailer said today’s students are accustomed to online books, and that books today are meant to only be a supplement to classroom work.

“The days of getting out the book and reading a chapter together, that is not what our classrooms look like anymore,” she said. “To use it to read chapters and gain knowledge tha t way, I just don’t see our classrooms functioning that way.”

Board members also approved the retirement of Ritchie Elementary School teacher Elaine Sedilko, who has worked for Ohio County Schools for 25 years. Pamela Fischer also is retiring as a custodian at Woodsdale Elementary School after 27 years on the job.

Kevin Hensley, an employee at Ritchie Elementary, also received a two-day suspension from the board. Board members do not provide any additional details regarding personnel matters.

The board next meets at 6 p.m. May 23 at the board office, 2203 National Road, Elm Grove.


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