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Lakeview schools reroute busing decision

Lakeview teacher contract approved with no base raises

CORTLAND — After some rerouting, the Lakeview School District will be able to make busing available for all students this school year while still cutting back on transportation costs, assistant K-8 Principal Ryan Stowell told the board of education.

The district planned to cut bus services to families within the boundaries of state Route 305, state Route 46 and Fowler Street as part of its plan to ease district financial concerns. The reduced busing came with backlash from parents who worried their young children would have to walk to school.

Stowell said the district used software to determine 13 bus routes that will serve the entire district, though they will involve longer trips, more cluster stops and full buses.

“We can do it, but it’s really stretching the limits of our transportation department,” Stowell said Monday.

The district still is cutting two bus routes, instead of an originally planned three, according to district Treasurer Sean Miller.

The school board this week placed one bus driver on a reduction-in-force list, meaning she will be laid off for the school year with the possibility of being recalled.

To counteract the cost of restoring one route, the district will not pay for field trips, leaving families or booster organizations to absorb those costs. Last year, district field trips cost around $30,000, Miller said.

After hearing parents’ concerns at the July board meeting, the district sent out a survey that received 167 responses. About 71 percent of families said if buses were available, they would have their first child ride in the morning, and 77 percent would have their first child ride in the afternoon, according to Stowell.

As of this week, the district is waiting to find out if some 250 students will want bus services. Stowell said while all of those students won’t ride the bus, he placed all on a route just in case.

Because buses will be near capacity, if a driver is out sick and a replacement can’t be found, students may have to wait at school for a bus to unload its usual riders and return for them, which could mean arriving home 30 or 40 minutes late. Parents would be notified should that happen, Stowell said.

The board also approved a one-year contract with the Lakeview Teachers Association. The contract, which begins Aug. 16, gives no base raises to the 114 teachers in the union.

Teachers will get their usual step increases as well as one additional personal day and two fewer work days, Miller said. The work days were not days in which teachers would have had students in classrooms.

The contract added an additional step pay increase at 17 years, bumping up the two highest steps, 23 and 26, Miller said. As in years past, teachers get a step increase each year from one to 14.

The district last year was in the bottom quarter of county school districts for teacher salaries. The added step will improve the district’s average salary, Miller said.

The starting salary for a step 0 teacher with a bachelor’s degree will be $33,896 — the same as it was last contract — while the highest salary for a step 26 teacher with a master’s degree and 30 additional credits will be $75,147, Miller said.

Last, teachers will get a six-month “premium holiday” from January to June 2023, during which the district will pay teachers’ insurance premiums, Miller said. The district, which pays 90 percent of insurance premiums anyway, is merging two benefits packages, which will save money overall, even while giving teachers a break for half a year.

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