NEWFANE, N.Y. — Shawn Swoope has been a bus aide for the past four years.
She says one of the reasons she does it is because her children ride her route.
Last Wednesday, she was one of 12 bus aides removed from Newfane.
She now works in the Starpoint Central School District.
“My son rides on my bus with me, so he was devastated when he first found out that he was not writing on my bus with me in district," she said. "Now I’m going out of district so I wasn’t even home from my boy’s first day of school."
Swoope joined a crowd of concerned aides, drivers and parents at Tuesday’s School Board Meeting.
Superintendent Michael Baumann says the district was forced to make changes after they put their transportation contract out to bid in January.
He says they now spend 48 percent more than in previous years on busing kids, so they will now use four bus aides who will rotate on the routes.
“I think we’re going to stick with that for the time being. We built into the budget the opportunity to, if we find a bus run that needs an aide on it as a permanent addition, one that has students with medical problems, one that has students with behavior issues, we can add that aide to the run on a regular basis,” Baumann said.
There is a chance they can eventually add back a few more aides, but not 12, he added.
Ray Chenaz, a former bus driver in the district, says monitors are essential for the safety of students.
He also services cameras that are on the bus to monitor behavior.
He says they are not an effective substitute for a person.
“If a car, an oncoming car, was coming and didn’t stop for the bus’ red lights, at least there’s an adult there with a student to pull them back and guide them safely,” Chenaz said.
Those in attendance Tuesday night say they will continue to voice their displeasure at board meetings until a change is made.
One thing parents requested was for the board to reach into the district’s reserves to bring the aides back.
The Board did not indicate whether that’s an option they’d consider.