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UPSD Working to Reduce Student Transportation Time
Written by Bradley Schlegel, Staff Writer

            Busing issues were discussed last week during Upper Perkiomen School Board regular meeting. Two parents expressed issues with the process. One told the members that his elementary-school-aged children spent well over an hour on the bus going to, or returning from, school. He asked the members during the Sept. 8 meeting to reduce that time.

Administrators are working to do that, according to Jennifer Malone, the district's director of transportation. She told the members that Krise Transportation – the company that provides busing services – is doing all it can to recruit drivers, including offering sign-on and retention bonuses, as well as health insurance to part-time employees.

            "They are just not there," Malone said.

            Administrators need approximately two weeks to iron out any issues, according to Malone. She said that once they get a handle on who will not be riding, adjustments can be made.  "As long as I'm not canceling runs, we're doing a good thing," the transportation director said.

            Malone told the members that the district currently has seven runs longer than 75 minutes. She said the goal is to keep them within an hour.

            Most runs include between 22 and 26 stops. Malone said the goal is to limit the riding time for any student on a trip to 45 minutes, which is where the district hopes to be in the next two to three weeks.  "If you have a longer ride coming to school, the goal is to give you a shorter ride home," Malone said.

            The board voted to add Joseph Wagner to the Krise staff, but the staffing for bus drivers remains where it was at the beginning of the school year, claimed Malone. She said the district could put four additional school buses on the street that would help reduce long routes. Hiring new drivers is not an easy process, Malone said.

            "It takes three months, and it requires four written tests," she said.

            In personnel news, the board approved the appointment of five new support staff employees. They include cafeteria/playground aides Caterina Maez, Tori Matrone and Caroline Hilbert; full-time custodian Robert Dowd and paraprofessional Sandra McKnight.

            Several support staff positions in the district remain unfilled. According to information provided on Sept. 1 by Georgiann Fisher, director of human resources, they include four full-time and one part-time custodians, 16 paraprofessionals across the district and seven food service positions. Those jobs include a full-time assistant manager at the middle school, a full time staff member at the high school and five part-time positions at various locations.

            The board also approved a leave for Nicole Wilson, a professional employee at Hereford Elementary. It will commence Oct. 6 and last between six and eight weeks.

            The board also voted to accept the retirements of Robin Rosenberger, an administrative assistant to Assistant Superintendent Andrea Farina, effective Dec. 2 and Gloria Matthews, a cafeteria/playground aide.

            The members held an executive session immediately prior to the public portion of the meeting. Solicitor Kyle Somers said they discussed issues of collective bargaining, personnel items related to a professional employee and the performance of the district's superintendent and assistant superintendent.

            Member Emily McCormick attended the meeting via Zoom. Keith McCarrick was absent.






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