Friday, October 24, 2014

Board debates busing band instruments

By DYLAN LYSEN, Herald Staff Writer | 3/26/2014

RICHMOND — Some parents think their children are missing out on opportunities because of Central Heights’ policy to not allow large band instruments on the district’s school buses.

Kyle Matile, Central Heights transportation director, told the school board Monday night he spoke with other school districts in the area about their policies for band equipment on the bus — as well as consulting state officials — and the consensus was they would not allow any large items to take the place of a student on the district vehicles.

RICHMOND — Some parents think their children are missing out on opportunities because of Central Heights’ policy to not allow large band instruments on the district’s school buses.

Kyle Matile, Central Heights transportation director, told the school board Monday night he spoke with other school districts in the area about their policies for band equipment on the bus — as well as consulting state officials — and the consensus was they would not allow any large items to take the place of a student on the district vehicles.

Questions were raised about the district’s transportation policy when a parent argued her child was unable to practice for band because they were unable to bring the instrument home.

Matile said the district’s policy allows students to bring instruments on the bus if they are small enough to fit under the seats in the bus or can be held by the students. In the case of a larger instrument, it can be transported by the bus if there is room because there is an empty seat. If the bus is full of students, then the item may not be permitted on the bus because it cannot take the place of a student.

“If there’s room on the bus, they allow it. If there’s not, they don’t,” Matile said of the other school districts.

Matile said this policy does leave gray area, because it does not define a “large” item. He said if the board wants to change the policy, it should leave out the gray area completely and name each item that would and wouldn’t be permitted onto the bus.

“If [the board] wants to change something, get it exact,” Matile said. “Do not leave any gray area.

“If they can go under the seat, or between their legs, that’s OK. It’s no problem,” Matile said. “We’ve never distinguished what big is, but the general rule is if you have to ask, then it’s probably too big.”

So far, there haven’t been any problems with making arrangements when a parent contacted the bus driver, Matile said. Crafting a new policy would have the added problem of trying to predict if buses would be full each day, which typically is a factor dependent on a particular bus route, Matile said. And some buses even switch from completely full in the morning to having extra space in the afternoon because some students don’t ride the bus both to and from school, he said.

“Anything that sits on top of the seats has the potential to become a flying projectile in the event of an accident,” Matile said. “So really, it’s on [the board]: What kind of liability do you want?

“I would suggest to the parents to just call the bus driver ... because I’ll be honest with you, I don’t know if this bus has room because I’m not there every day,” Matile said. “Just call your bus driver and [ask], ‘Is there room or is there not?’”

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