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Batavia school plan makes room for more bus students

BATAVIA – About 40 percent of eligible students took advantage of Batavia’s new busing eligibility guidelines on Tuesday’s opening day of school, the district’s business administrator said Tuesday.

Scott C. Rozanski reported that 73 of 150 students who qualified under the new transportation policy at Batavia High School and 33 of about 100 pupils who qualified at John Kennedy Intermediate School rode the bus.

At Batavia High, the new transportation plan offers busing to students living within the city limits but more than a mile and a half away from the State Street facility. Previously, only students living outside the city limits were eligible to take the bus.

At John Kennedy, the board decreased the mileage requirements from 1 mile to a half-mile for children who live in the city.

Rozanski said the changes were implemented in response to parents whose children had to walk long distances, especially during the winter months.

“We feel that it helps those families who need it the most, and it will make it easier for the younger kids who may have had to walk through rougher neighborhoods and when the weather isn’t favorable,” Rozanski said. “Overall, we believe it will have a positive impact.”

Rozanski said the district and the bus company, Student Transportation of America, has set up 16 pickup points along the various routes to make sure that no student would have to walk more than a half-mile to a pickup point.

He noted that the district already has added one bus to accommodate the increase in students, and it is possible that more students will opt in.

“We may need one or two more buses because about 75 to 100 students didn’t turn their transportation forms in on time,” Rozanski noted.

He said that any additional buses needed as a result of the relaxed transportation limits are included in the district’s $43 million budget for 2015-16.

Also, at last night’s School Board meeting, Rozanski said he is preparing tax bills for mailing on Oct. 1 that will reflect a 0.95 percent increase in the tax rate – or 22 cents per $1,000 of a homeowner’s assessed valuation.

The district will be looking to collect $18.5 million in school taxes.