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School Board Letter on Transportation

Dear Cambridge Families,

In light of recent public discussion regarding the busing situation at CES, there are a couple updates at the School Board level that I would like to share with you.

First, I recently sent the message at the end of this email to Governor Scott.  One outside-the-box solution that has been implemented in other states is employing National Guard members who already possess a CDL to drive school buses.  I've asked the Governor to consider it here in Vermont.  Anyone who is interested in sending the Governor a letter on the subject of busing may do so through the vermont.gov portal at this link --> https://vermont.force.com/vermontce/s/governor-office-ce

Second, during budget development we assess the needs of CES and the projected available resources to meet those needs.  Busing is no exception, and every year we take into consideration whether to continue running our own bus service, or to contract the service out to an independent transportation provider.  I expect this year there will be greater focus on that topic, as we seek long-term stability in our busing service.

Lastly, the Administration and the Board have discussed many ideas over the past few weeks, and we've already acted on some of those ideas.  Most of those discussions can be found in our Board minutes (https://ces.lnsd.org/community/school-board).  The Administration has been working tirelessly to find a solution, and many of their efforts are not seen, therefore not appreciated, by the public.  For example, we were fortunate to add a bus from Lamoille Valley Transportation to augment the CES buses.  However, LVT is unable to provide more than that one bus, because their resources are also limited.  Regardless, the Administration has ongoing communication with LVT, seeking more support in the event more LVT buses become available to us.

Rest assured that the Administration and Board are leaving no stone unturned.  If it's an idea that could help, it's likely been discussed.  As Mary Anderson noted in a recent communication, we do see a resolution to our current situation on the horizon.  We understand the challenge facing families, and we appreciate your continued patience and cooperation during this difficult time.

 

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Governor Scott --

I'm writing to you today because we face a school transportation crisis (along with districts across the state) and desperately seek outside-the-box action to solve it.  To adequately serve the transportation needs of our district, both primary and secondary students, we require 5 bus drivers covering morning and afternoon routes.  Currently we've been reduced to 1 full-time driver, due to a variety of reasons.  We have a couple other drivers on (non-Covid related) medical leave, who should hopefully be back by February.  We are trying to recruit a couple other possible drivers, who will need to get their CDL license and bus endorsement, which would also put them on track for being road-ready sometime after the new year.  Our administration is working diligently and creatively to try to meet the needs of families, but we just don't have enough human resource immediately available.

As you can see, we're not sitting idle as we have potential solutions on the horizon. We're crossing our fingers that none of them fall through.  In the immediate term, families are struggling to transport students to Cambridge Elementary, and more so the ~15 miles to Lamoille Union.  It is becoming an equity issue, with higher-risk students being the most likely to suffer attendance disruptions.  At this critical time, our higher-risk students need the academics, nutrition and services provided by the school more than ever.

I implore you to consider using the resources available to you to help struggling districts facing this crisis.  As in other states, we have National Guard members that could step in to help.  I believe this is an option worth exploring.  What would hopefully be a few weeks' temporary assignment for the Guard would make an enormous difference in the lives of students and families who may otherwise have no way to get to school.

Thank you for your consideration in helping us catch the kids before they fall through the cracks.

Mark Stebbins, Chair
Cambridge Elementary Board of Directors