It will cost more than $2 million for Bowling Green City Schools to transport students if face-to-face classes resume in the fall.
That amount was shared by Superintendent Francis Scruci at Tuesday’s board of education meeting.
“Transportation is going to be a huge issue,” he said during the meeting, which was shown on YouTube to adhere to the social distancing guidelines.
“What we are hearing is that our buses will not be able to transport more than 25 students per bus,” which is one child per seat, Scruci said.
Masks will be required as will a bus aide to make sure students and the drivers are abiding to social distancing restrictions.
“Again, nothing has been decided,” Scruci said.
Gov. Mike DeWine said in his Tuesday press briefing that state guidelines on reopening schools in the fall will be released in the next 10 days. Schools have not been in session since March due to coronavirus.
Scruci said that the district has eight routes that transport more than 60 students per bus.
In order to meet the demands of transporting students, that will require the purchase of 12 more buses, at $90,000-$98,000 each, plus 12 new drivers.
“It’s difficult to find drivers in the first place, let alone find 12,” Scruci said.
The total number of buses on routes would be 32, which would mean adding 32 aides.
“Just this alone will bring us to about $2 million in addition to what we have spent in the past,” Scruci said. “That is going to be a major hurdle.”
Transportation will be a linchpin to any decision by any school district, including Bowling Green.
While the district’s survey shows most parents want their children to return to school this fall, people need to understand that under the current guidelines, it will be impossible to do face-to-face lessons, Scruci said.
“This continues to be a challenge for us as we move forward.”
Scruci said that of those parents that responded to a district-wide survey, 75% are in favor of returning to face-to-face lessons in the fall.
A little more than 50% responded, or about 1,400 of the 2,900 surveys emailed to parents.
“That’s a tremendous response,” Scruci said.
Still, 25% said they would not be comfortable sending their children back to school, he added.
“There’s a great deal of concern over what we’ve dealt with … and preparations for next year,” Scruci said. “It would be really difficult to make every kid come back to school.”
Not figured into the $2 million is the need for personal protective equipment, hand sanitizers throughout the schools and the conversion of drinking fountains to water bottle stations.
“There are so many things you need to address … it becomes overwhelming at some point,” Scruci said.
He is planning to give options to the board in the next two weeks as to what school could like in the fall. He also will share survey results at that meeting.
Scruci said as administrators look at every scenario, discussion shoots into four or five different directions – the water fountains are an example.
Another offshoot is the banning of fans in the classrooms for fear of spreading the virus.
There are three buildings without air conditioning and teachers use fans to move the air.
“We’re going to do what we’ve always done and that is make decisions on the best interests of our students and our staff,” Scruci said.
“We’re going to have as good a plan as we can bring you,” he told the board.
“I pledge to this board and this community: We’re going to do everything we can to try to get our kids back as soon as possible.”