CITY OF TONAWANDA — After numerous fights and behavioral problems on Riverview Elementary buses, the City of Tonawanda school board voted last month to add a bus monitor to supervise the students.
As of right now, one teaching assistant has been hired to float between the three elementary school buses.
And at Tuesday’s meeting, Business Director Stephen Perry said the decision seems to be successful — with no incident reports coming from the elementary schools and only one serious incident at the high school in the last two weeks.
But Perry said he still plans on advising the board to reinstate two buses during the next budget session. The two buses, along with a swim and late bus, were cut in response to the board’s request to lower transportation costs by 10 percent.
Although the move to go from 12 buses to 10 will save $64,000, Perry and Rainbow busing representatives believe cramming more students into the remaining buses has caused problems.
“We have had a number of issues that are due to the overcrowding,” he said.
Riverview students were fighting, running up and down the aisles and one children were hitting each other with seat belts. One student has come off the bus with a bloody nose.
Rainbow representatives attributed the behavior problems to overcrowding; some buses have close to 60 children on them. Drivers have also had trouble staying on schedule with the addition of more passengers to pick up, and Rainbow representatives requested an additional bus at the Oct. 23 meeting.
But the board wasn’t too receptive to adding more buses.
“We were told, originally, they could do it with less buses and be on time,” Board President Jackie Smilinich said.
Riverview Principal Claudia Panaro agreed, and said she thought adding monitors was the most promising solution.
In addition to behavior problems, the district is currently operating with a $161,700 deficit due to special education transportation costs.