By David Prenatt
RIPLEY - Ripley Central School Board of Education learned Thursday, Sept. 12 that it may have solved a bus transportation problem that has caused frustration for parents since the school year began.
The district had received several complaints that students were arriving home very late because the elementary students had to wait until the buses returned from picking up high school students at Chautauqua Lake Central School district. Board president Robert Bentley noted that the district had anticipated that transportation problems would be the "single toughest part of the tuitioning process."
Superintendent Karen Krause reported that the district has added another bus at the end of the day in order to alleviate the problem. The elementary students who are ready to leave at 3:20 p.m. will board this bus. This will significantly speed up the process since the bus that drops off high school walkers does not then have to pick up elementary students, she said.
"All of the buses were out of the parking lot today by 3:25 p.m. today," she said. "It's all been a group effort to find a solution."
In a related matter, one parent told the board that her seventh-grade son has to be at the bus stop at 6:25 a.m. but missed the bus because it arrived early.
Head bus driver Rhonda Nelson responded that bus drivers are still getting used to the new routes created the move to send students to CLCS, and said parents should try to have their students to the stop a few minutes earlier than scheduled. If a student does miss the bus, however, parents should contact the bus garage and "we can arrange another stop or we will have someone sent out to get them," she said.
Ripley guidance counselor Gregory Beardsley gave a report on how the high school students are making the transition to CLCS. He said the guidance department there has "bent over backward" to help Ripley students adjust.
"I have spent a large part of my life in this community and would never consciously let a Ripley student be treated unfairly," he said. "Most of the kids are doing well. I've talked to two students who say they hate it, but they know they don't have a choice and are going to make the best of it. It's going as well as I think it could,"
Bentley also commented that he had attended a football game at CLCS and saw a lot of positive evidence that students are making the transition.
The board heard a presentation from BOCES superintendent David O'Rouke, Assistant Superintendent John O'Connor, and board President Ronald Catalano about the services that they offer.
There were kids from Ripley there, but they are Chautauqua Lake students. The kids are fine, they've done it. I was proud of them," he said.
The board also welcomed two new staff members. Sarah Funka was hired as a library media specialist, and Amanda Harrier will serve the district as a physical education/health teacher.
In other business, Krause reported that a lawsuit filed against the board and the district will cost and estimated $58,418 in legal fees and clerical work, as well as numerous hours of work time for district personnel.
Bentley responded saying the suit was a waste of time, money and emotions. "In a district that counts its penniesthat's a lot of money for what I'll refer to as a frivolous lawsuit. The consequence is that the taxpayers pay the bill," he said.