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NCSD Transportation Director: Smooth sailing for school buses

Published: Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2017 10:04 a.m. CST • Updated: Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2017 10:23 a.m. CST
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(David Dolmage/Daily News)
Newton Community School District Transportation Supervisor Curt Roorda addresses the Newton School Board during their regular meeting on Monday.

The buses are rolling in Newton, and Newton Community Schools Transportation Director Curt Roorda reported to the school board on Monday this year’s gotten off to a good start. Last year, the school officials heard complaints from parents about traffic jams at Berg Middle School, but Roorda said this year has been smooth sailing so far.

“We really got off to a pretty good start this year,” Roorda said.

Previously at Berg, buses parked behind the school, with the front drive, off Fifth Avenue East, being used for parents to drop off and pick up students. That area is now be used a staging area for buses, with a new drop off and pick up location designated for parents off East 19th Street North, on the west side of the building.The front drive will open to passenger vehicles between the hours of 8 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. to make it easier for parents to have access to the school during the day.

There were concerns that staging all of the buses at Berg this year would create traffic issues for parents dropping off students, but that hasn’t been the case this year. Board members said they’ve heard only good feedback from parents so far, and board member Robyn Friedman, a Berg parent said the improvement is noticeable.

“It’s been extremely smooth, the first week all the teachers really helped coordinate the kids,” Friedman said. “Compared to last year when we had so many negative comments, to not have that this year has been really positive.”

The buses are staged on East 19th Street to roll in together, which has created some minor traffic issues but nothing significant, according to NCSD Superintendent Bob Callaghan. Callaghan told the board at Monday’s meeting that once the buses have departed traffic quickly dissipates. To Friedman, the coordination between the drivers was like watching a marching band.

“It’s almost musical, the way it all fits together,” Friedman said.

With parents picking up their kids on the back side of Berg this year instead of using the front drive Friedman said lines haven’t been too long, and she believes it’s easier for parents to get in and out than in previous years.

“That was a concern of mine, but it really hasn’t been an issue,” Friedman said.

Additionally, the district has added more crossing guards near Berg, which Friedman said have helped students get into the building and where they need to be much quicker than in previous years. Both Roorda and Friedman credited Berg Principal Lisa Sharp for her efforts in coordinating the bus drop off changes and getting the word out about those changes to parents.

“Mrs. Sharp has done an excellent job of communicating with parents,” Roorda said.

Roorda also reported to the board the district had completed its annual bus inspections in August of this year with no significant issues to report. There are some changes to the routes this year, according to the transportation director but no big differences.

Contact David Dolmage at 641-792-3121 ext. 6532 or ddolmage@newtondailynews.com

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