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Parents keep school bus saga going
"School bus transportation is still a hot topic in Oak Harbor, with a handful of community members turning out for Monday night's school board meeting to ask that certain routes not be cut.However, the routes as developed by Oak Harbor School District's transportation department for the 2001-2002 school year will remain in effect, said Kathy Jones, school board president. However, Jones called for the formation of an ad hoc transportation committee, to be made up of parents, district staff, community members and a school board member, to review the system prior to next year.The route cuts became a topic when when the district made the decision to discontinue bus service to to a select group of children living within a one-mile radius of their school, as the crow flies. These schoolchildren, living in the neighborhoods near Hillcrest Elementary School, had been receiving bus transportation to and from school, although hundreds of other children living in other parts of Oak Harbor, also within the one-mile radius, had never received bus transportation.The district's transportation director, Vonnie Edwards, determined that those routes should be cut to save money and provide all children with equal treatment. That decision prompted a flood of phone calls to Edwards' office from concerned, and sometimes angry, parents.I'm disappointed there were not more people at the (school board) meeting, Edwards said on Tuesday. Edwards had expected a big turnout of people wanting to address their concerns with the board, since she had received numerous complaint calls to her office, often including shouting and yelling. Instead, only three people addressed the school board at its regular meeting Monday night.That's where they needed to air their concerns, Edwards said.Now that the bus routes are firmed up for the year, Edwards' staff plugged them into a computer software program and generated route maps. Those maps will be laminated and posted outside of every school, with another copy in the school offices. Elementary schools will have the elementary bus maps, and the middle schools and high school will have the middle school/high school bus map, Edward said. The maps will be posted at all schools for public viewing beginning Friday, Aug. 31and they will show bus stop locations and times. You can reach News-Times reporter Christine Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 675-6611 "