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Thu, July 18

Parents unhappy with 3-hour roundtrip school bus rides; district has solution
HUSD sorts out bus challenges

Humboldt Unified School District mechanic Art Ramirez walks the bus line to take one into the bus barn garage for maintenance Tuesday afternoon in Prescott Valley. HUSD maintains 68 buses.<br>
TribPhoto/Cheryl Hartz

Humboldt Unified School District mechanic Art Ramirez walks the bus line to take one into the bus barn garage for maintenance Tuesday afternoon in Prescott Valley. HUSD maintains 68 buses.<br> TribPhoto/Cheryl Hartz

Amber Schaffer's children have been riding the school bus from StoneRidge, on the west end of Prescott Valley, to Bradshaw Mountain Middle School, in Dewey, for years. It takes about an hour each way.

So she was shocked to learn on the Friday before school started that Bus Route 99-7 had a first pick-up time of 5:38 a.m. arriving at BMMS at 7:15, 1 hour 37 minutes - and 47 stops - later. The return route doubled the daily commute for a total of three-and-a-quarter hours.

Schaffer said that is too long for her 12-year-old and other students to spend traveling to and from school.

"Luckily, I can drive my son. But not everyone can do that," Schaffer said.

Dan Streeter, director of Human Resources for the Humboldt Unified School District, said the district, in its efforts to conserve fuel costs, worked during the summer to consolidate routes and improve bus occupancy rates.

Currently, the route begins at StoneRidge, but travels to the back (north side) of Prescott Valley picking up students along Saddleback, Cattlemen and Hondo drives, and down Robert Road on its way to the school.

This week, Director of Transportation Kim Porter is working on splitting Bus Route 99-7 into two separate routes.

"We've set a standard we need to follow with bus routes," Streeter said Monday morning. "No student should be on the bus for more than one hour. The only exception is to go to the outlying boundaries of the district. StoneRidge is not one of those."

He said Porter is working to split the route to reduce the amount of time the students are spending on the bus to less than an hour. That should be accomplished mid week. The district likes to have three days to communicate to parents any schedule changes, and the new route most likely will begin Monday, Aug. 19.

Streeter also confirmed a favorable resolution of a unique situation in Dewey-Humboldt where a parent new to the district was physically unable to walk her 7-year-old, a third-grader, to the bus stop about a half-mile away.

The district learned the Town of Dewey-Humboldt recently paved that stretch of hilly road. The bus also is able to turn around near the home, a short distance away on a dirt side road.

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