October 30, 2014

SSC looking to let students drive to Bay Arenac ISD

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STANDISH — At the Aug. 9 Standish-Sterling School Board meeting, the board decided to talk with an attorney regarding high school students being allowed the choice to drive themselves to the Bay Arenac ISD Career Center rather than taking a bus.

Assistant Principal Keith Fegan said, at the meeting, that the administration believes the students should be allowed to drive themselves.

“We have kids that drive to school every morning, and who they ride with or who they come with we don’t check and it’s the same thing when they leave,” he said.

Fagan added that students who compete in sports or who have doctor appointments already drive themselves to the Career Center on their own.

“We have a lot of kids driving already and for the ones that don’t have events going on they ride the bus. (The administration) feels that they are 17 or 18 year old kids, we feel they should be allowed to drive and be responsible to get themselves there,” he said.

Superintendent Michael Dodge said he was fine with the board deciding to let students drive themselves, but he expressed his concern for their safety.

Dodge suggested that the board make a rule for students driving themselves.

“You have to make a reasonable attempt under the law to make it safe and orderly for the students,” he said. “Our rule would be that they have to drive by themselves, because (now) you are making a reasonable attempt at safety.”

Dodge said the administration has been looking for the flexibility for students driving themselves for about five years. He added that he feels busses are safer.

“I always think it’s best to have (children) on buses,” he said.

Dodge said when he was a principal he found that the less distractions students have while driving the better off they are.

“When you have a boat load of kids in one car they are more distracted,” he said.

The board will meet with an attorney to discuss the best option for the school.

Fagan said the number of students going to the career center this year is down about 25 students.

“We are at about 52 (students) going down to the Career Center. Last year we had 74 (students),” he said. “We will still have a bus that goes down to the Career Center. The bus allows us the option for students who don’t want to drive to take the bus.”

Dodge said that a one bus will continue to go to the career center instead of two, but the money saved will be a small amount.

“Saving money is not the focus,” he said. “The focus is safety.”

Dodge said whatever the attorney decides the administration will follow.

“If that means, for example, one (student) per car, than that is what the administration will do.”

Fagan said the administration trusts the students to get to the career center themselves because they are “young adults.”

“A lot of our students don’t like to drive down there because it’s so far,” Dodge said. “It’s basically half of their day.”

Dodge said he has a personal bias about safety first.

“If you get 16 kids in a car that’s not a safe deal,” Dodge said. “The district hast to protect our kids, that’s our responsibility.”

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