Transportation budget cuts affect Sullivan


Last updated 7/17/2008 at Noon

Transportation budget cuts by the Bonsall Union School District (BUSD) have led to a review of school bus pickup stops for Sullivan Middle School students residing in district boundaries in Oceanside and Pala.

Some parents said they heard rumors that bus transportation would halt altogether. The BUSD Board of Trustees and new superintendent Dr. Justin Cunningham have decided to continue the school bus transportation, but with significant changes.

“The decision was to maintain a bus route to Pala and a bus route going to Bonsall West [Elementary] and then having those buses go to Sullivan Middle School,” said Cunningham.

Instead of making multiple stops, the plan stipulates one stop at each of them.

“Our intent was to cover each area; one pickup at the farthest west and the other the farthest east to pick up these middle school students,” said Wayne Jones, BUSD assistant superintendent.

Although permanent pickup points have yet to be finalized, the board and superintendent have been considering various possibilities.

“At this time, the pickup point we are thinking about for Bonsall West would be toward the back gate, and then we would look at possibly Vivian Banks School in Pala as being the other,” said Cunningham.

BUSD parents should expect a letter in the mail updating them of the changes, said Cunningham. “We are looking at getting those letters out sometime in August.”

Cunningham also plans to communicate with lobbyists from the Small School Districts’ Association. “I want to talk about some possibilities of legislation going toward more support for transportation in rural school districts,” he said.

For the Pala and Bonsall West areas, two school buses will remain. A mechanic and driver were kept on payroll. The mechanic will also serve as a bus driver.

“This fits within our budget,” said Jones. “And so far, the response from families has been very understanding.”

Brian Handly, who resides in the Arrowwood subdivision in Oceanside, within Bonsall district boundaries, has a son who attends Sullivan Middle School. He has done his best to be understanding but says he has become frustrated with the lack of communication from the school board and superintendent’s office.

Handly and his wife say they are “in the dark” regarding how their son will get to school. Although there will be a designated Bonsall West area bus stop, they need to know where this one stop will be, and waiting for a letter that won’t arrive until August is just too late, he says.

The Handlys’ work schedule prevents them from taking and picking up their child from school. “I also need to find out if this bus stop is going to be far from our home,” said Handly, whose main concern is his child’s safety getting to the bus stop.

If the bus stop is unacceptable to the Handlys, they say they need time to make alternate arrangements, which may possibly include transferring their son to another school district.

“Rumors about the transportation have been running around all spring,” said Handly, “and I expect someone from the school district to have better communication skills with the parents.”

Handly said it would be helpful to have earlier notification than August, such as if the information could be posted on the district’s Web site or perhaps by using the district’s automated outbound telephone call system.

“We need to know something so we can make some final decisions for our son,” Handly said.

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