Danville Express

Newsfront - August 31, 2007

Busing to Monte Vista will stop

Developer commitment ended with Dougherty Valley High

by Jordan M. Doronila

Trustees expressed their sorrow last week at their Tuesday school board meeting to San Ramon residents for informing them abruptly in July that bus service was canceled to Monte Vista High School from Dougherty Valley for juniors and seniors.

"I apologize to you and the audience for the difficulties you now have to face," Trustee Greg Marvel said.

The district sent a letter in May to Dougherty Valley residents saying bus service to Monte Vista would still be operational for upperclassmen, even after Dougherty Valley High School opened for freshmen and sophomores. At the time, district officials were under the impression the developer would continue to fund the bus service. However, Shapell Homes was only obligated to provide bus service until Dougherty Valley High opened.

District officials sent a letter in July to parents informing them about the bus cancellation. But trustees did not know the letter was sent until after the fact. In the letter, parents were informed they could subsidize busing for each student at $1,345.50 a year, and the district said it would need a commitment of 60 students per route to make it work.

The trustees also approved a policy in June saying the district would no longer pay for bus service because its limited financial resources should be spent on all the students, as opposed to the handful who used the bus service.

San Ramon residents affected by the discontinued Dougherty Valley bus said they are unhappy paying for subsidies. They also said annulling the bus service means more time spent in traffic.

"It's 30 minutes in traffic," said parent Brian Schmidt, at the meeting, attended by 10 to 20 people. "I wish there were more parents vocalizing this."

Marvel said he wanted to discuss the busing issue because he was unhappy the district didn't inform the board before it sent the letter.

"I'm more disturbed about the process of how the decision was made than the decision itself," he said.

Board members said it was an unfortunate mistake.

"I don't think the administration tried to mislead us," said Trustee Bill Clarkson.

"I think the board really needs to be copied on all letters," said Trustee Rachel Hurd.

Marvel wanted the board to vote on the issue but his fellow trustees said that would be inefficient, divisive and give residents a false sense of hope. The majority of board members said they would vote against it.

"I wish we could afford it," said Trustee Paul Gardner. "We, the district, never promised free busing. The developers did."

San Ramon residents asked for suggestions and some given were to talk to Shapell; to ask if students could stay in at school when classes end; and for parents to brainstorm for solutions.

"We have to do something," said San Ramon parent Christy Sykes.


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