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Certification of bus monitors mulled

The Tonawanda City School District is still having difficulties with its transportation department. The latest indication came this week when it was revealed during a School Board meeting that none of the district's five bus monitors has been certified.

Problems with transportation were raised in October when representatives from Rainbow, which provides bus services for Tonawanda, said there were behavioral issues on some of the buses – possibly due to overcrowding.

They suggested an additional bus route to solve the issue, but the board instead moved to use a teacher assistant as an additional monitor on the bus.

Subsequently, Stephen Perry, director of finance for the district, noticed that four other bus monitors were never certified either. The cost to train all five monitors would be $1,740, and Perry believes Rainbow could train the monitors in the next few weeks.

Reaction to the news was mixed among board members.

While the issue creates a liability problem for Tonawanda, Chris Trapp, the district's attorney, said removing the monitors from the buses also would create problems. He suggested leaving the monitors on the buses but getting them certified as quickly as possible.

"You're in a tough spot," he said.

Board member Lynn Casal was also upset that the motion to put the original monitors on the buses was never approved by the School Board in the first place.

Board President Jackie Smilinich estimated that the current bus monitors have been in place for at least three years.

Casal called for a report on who made the decision to implement the bus monitors.

"That's my problem," Casal said. "It never came before the board. It's not appropriate."

Following Tuesday's meeting, the School Board moved to executive session to discuss the district's ongoing superintendent search with a special committee of district and community members.

Former Superintendent Whitney Vantine retired in October, and Mary Beth Scullion, assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction, is serving as interim leader.