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Check the school bus schedule, service starts Monday

According to District Transportation Director Dolly Martin, no bus routes have been added or dropped for the 2011-2012 school year.

However, Martin did say that drop off/pick up times have changed (see below). As always, parents should check the district’s website (www.pagosa.k12.co.us/transportation/transportation.html) or call 264-0392 to verify departure and arrival times for their student’s particular route.

Martin said that this year’s schedule for school drop offs and pick ups at the schools are as follows:

Morning:

• 7:35 a.m., high school.

• 7:40 a.m., elementary school.

• 7:45 a.m., middle school.

Afternoon:

• 3:30 p.m., elementary school.

• 3:35 p.m., high school.

• 3:40 p.m., middle school.

A policy that has changed for the 2011-2012 school year is that students desiring to ride a bus that they are not signed up for will not be allowed to board without a bus pass. If your student will be taking an alternate route to visit a friend, relative or for arranged childcare, it’s your responsibility to contact the school office and ensure that the appropriate bus pass has been arranged.

Martin also said that it is important that parents update all contact information. “I know parents get frustrated having to fill out the contract every year,” Martin said, “but it’s necessary to keep that information up to date.”

Martin said that as much as 25 percent of the district’s contact information is erroneous due to parent’s failure to keep that information current. However, Martin said that the information is needed in cases when a child is unsure where to go on a particular day or in case of some other emergency. If you’ve changed jobs, have a new phone number or a new alternate phone number (i.e. friend or relative), you should contact the district’s transportation office at 264-0932 so bus drivers can reach the appropriate number.

Finally, Martin stressed that thru traffic on Lewis Street is forbidden while buses are picking up and dropping off. Martin said she will conduct traffic patrol on Lewis Street every day and will report any traffic illegally passing flashing bus stop signs to law enforcement.

In fact, it is state law to stop — whether in the opposite lane or behind the bus — when the bus has stopped and the flashing stop sign and lights have been activated. If a driver ignores the lights and signs and drives through, the bus driver will note the make and model of the car, along with the license plate number, and will immediately contact law enforcement to make a report.

Failure to stop for a school bus when lights are flashing results in a mandatory court appearance and, upon conviction, a six-point license violation. In extreme cases, a perpetrator may be fined between $150 to $300, and sentenced to between 10 and 90 days in jail.

While common sense would seem to dictate that drivers would automatically stop when a school bus has activated warning lights and stop sign, she said she personally witnesses several violations a week during the school year, with bus drivers reporting many more incidents.

“When the stop signs are out, stop. Not just at the school but in any of our roadways,” she said.

Nevertheless, riding the school bus is still the safest bet for getting a student to and from school, as much as 13 times safer than transporting a child to school in a privately operated vehicle (according to a study conducted by the Transportation Safety Board, “Approximately 75 percent of the deaths and 84 percent of the injuries resulting from crashes during normal school travel hours occurred in the two passenger vehicle categories, while only 2 percent of deaths and 4 percent of injuries occurred on school buses.”).

Martin agreed that the school bus is still the safest way for students to get to and from school, despite occasional transgressions by self-involved or ignorant drivers.

“It’s by far safer than dropping your child off at school. Plus, we all know what a mess it can be dropping off kids or picking them up at school, especially at the elementary school,” she said.

jim@pagosasun.com

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