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Published: Wednesday, 11/16/2011

School board approves high school bus service

3 shuttles to run in mornings, afternoons

Michael Za- lar, superintendent, says details for the service are to be set in December.  Michael Za- lar, superintendent, says details for the service are to be set in December.

After outraged parents complained that high school busing wasn't reinstated even though Oregon school administrators received salary increases this year, school officials have proposed a new transportation plan.

At its meeting Nov. 8, the Oregon Board of Education approved creating a bus shuttle service to pick up high school students starting in January.

The plan calls for three buses to make about 10 total stops, which could be at intersections or other public places.

Each bus probably would travel a route twice in the morning to take students to Clay High School and local parochial schools and then twice in the afternoon, Superintendent Michael Zalar said during the meeting.

Details -- such as where the stops would be and the set pick-up times -- won't be final until the board's next meeting, in December, the superintendent said.

"It's not a perfect plan or a perfect system," Mr. Zalar said.

The shuttle service would cost between $40,000 and $50,000 for the second half of the 2011-2012 school year.

Oregon City Schools eliminated busing to Clay in January, which saved $453,669 annually.

The service cuts became a contentious issue for residents during the board's Oct. 18 meeting.

At the time, some parents said they were concerned about students' safety getting to school without busing and were frustrated by the inconvenience of driving their children.

A recent survey at Clay High School found that about 350 students -- about a quarter of the student body -- were interested in busing. Most were freshmen and sophomores too young to have driver's licenses, Mr. Zalar said.

School officials will re-evaluate high school transportation at the end of the school year, Mr. Zalar said.

If the board decides to continue the shuttle for a full year, the estimated annual cost is between $75,000 and $100,000, he said.

In other business, the board approved authorizing the lease on the district's wind turbine project.

The district plans to build three turbines -- one 283 feet tall at the high school and two of 190 feet each at Eisenhower Middle School -- to save on electricity costs as part of a $3.3 million project.

"This board has been on board since its inception," said school board member Richard Gabel about the wind turbine proposal. "I recommend we go ahead on this project."

Contact Gabrielle Russon at: grusson@theblade.com or 419-724-6026.

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