Questions arise regarding student sports transportation

NEW CUMBERLAND — As overnight trips for Oak Glen’s varsity wrestling teams were being approved, Monday, questions were brought up over what mode of transportation will be taken.

During its meeting, the Hancock County Board of Education approved four overnight field trips for the Oak Glen High School wrestling team, all of which will take place throughout the season over the next couple months.

Those overnight trips included the Wheeling Park duals tournament on Dec. 28 and 29, the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference wrestling tournament Jan. 17-19, the West Virginia Region I Tournament Feb. 8-9 and the West Virginia State Wrestling Tournament Feb. 21-23.

Prior to receiving approval from the board, Superintendent Tim Woodward addressed a few situations that have taken place where some teams have opted to use chartered buses and other methods of transportation instead of the school buses provided by the county.

Woodward said the problem is the charter buses were ordered by the teams at the last minute, even though a bus driver had already been assigned to transport the student-athletes to their needed games. He added that while the bus drivers never had an opportunity to fulfill their obligations, they were still paid for what would have been their services.

“They take charters at the last minute, and our bus drivers had already accepted their bus routes,” Woodward said. “I paid the bus drivers even though they took charters because I didn’t think it was fair to some of the bus drivers because they missed out on some of the trips.”

Woodward said in one instance, a limousine came to the school to pick up students and school officials had to send it back because it did not allow the capacity needed.

“We’ve had a limousine show up, and we can’t take limousines,” Woodward said. “The transportation has to be 16 passengers or better, and so we had to send the limousine back and send us a bus, and they did send us a charter.”

A representative with the Transportation Department said the policy that chartered buses were to go to certain areas had not changed, and chartered buses could be used at state tournaments with some of the teams.

Woodward said he is trying to reinforce to school principals the idea that if they wish to use charter buses, they need to provide more advance notice before a bus driver is assigned and then loses work.

In another matter, the board approved the strategic plan for the John D. Rockefeller IV Career Center which included the acceptance of the school’s mission, the purpose of all programs and the overall plan in order to become COE compliant.

(Rappach can be contact at srappach@reviewonline.com)

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