To the Editor,
I have been a bus operator for the Hancock County School District for 36 years. In my opinion, I believe that Hancock County Superintendant Suzan Smith is making a huge mistake by relocating the school buses currently parked in Weirton to the bus garage in New Cumberland near the Rockefeller Career Center.
Even though the property on Virginia Avenue was sold, there was a stipulation in the sale that the property did not have to be vacated until 2016.
I would like to inform the parents, grandparents and taxpayers of Hancock County how this will affect them. There will no longer be any buses parked in Weirton, although a promise was made by Smith before the bond levy was passed to park the buses at the new Weirton Elementary School because there would be plenty of room. Should we have an emergency at one of the six Weirton schools, the response time to evacuate our children may take up to one hour or more. If there is an early dismissal due to the weather, the time that it would take to get the buses to the school and for the children to arrive home would increase substantially.
The bus operators who drive routes in Weirton either live in Weirton or the Follansbee area.These bus operators will be required to drive to New Cumberland and perform their required safety checks before proceeding to the schools. So, as you can see, this will require some time. Hopefully we will not have any traffic-related issues on state Route 2 that would increase the time. School buses get about 5.5 miles per gallon. With fuel costs at approximately $4 a gallon and each of our 19 Weirton buses driving about an extra 40 miles per day, it would be almost $100,000 extra in fuel cost alone per year, not to mention wear and tear mechanically on the buses plus extra time paid for the bus operators.
Common sense dictates when you increase spending your budget suffers and you need to make cuts. And if cuts need to be made they probably will not come from administrator's salaries, which exceed $1 million per year. They will come from consolidated bus routes, discontinued sports and curricular trips, classroom supplies, programs for the children and professional development for staff members. If you, like myself are concerned about our children not having the buses close for quick response time in an emergency and the extra cost to our citizens of Hancock County, please make your concerns known to Smith and the Hancock County Board of Education at (304) 564-3411, ext. 0. Unless you voice your opinion this decision will not change. For information, you can contact (304) 224-0709 or (304) 670-6336.