WOOD RIVER JUNCTION — On Tuesday evening, the Chariho school committee voted unanimously to request a variance of RI Gen. Law 16-21-1 for the 2014-2015 school year. The law requires that all bus routes that transport students in kindergarten through fifth grade include a bus monitor in addition to the bus driver.
The variance will save the district $237,000, according to Chariho Regional School District Director of Administration Brian Stanley.
The district’s plan only pertains to students in grade five who attend the Chariho Middle School and who ride buses with students in grades six through 12 to whom the law does not apply. Students in kindergarten through fourth grade will continue to be provided with bus monitors.
According to the law, “variances to the requirement for a school bus monitor may be granted by the commissioner of elementary and secondary education if he or she finds that an alternative plan provides substantially equivalent safety.”
“When you request a waiver you have to have an alternative plan. Our alternative plan is to train the kids in transportation safety,” said Chariho Superintendent of Schools Barry Ricci.
The Chariho district will provide mandatory bus safety classes for students in grades five through 12, including how to use emergency procedures as well as “proper embarking and disembarking procedures.” In addition, the safety instruction will include the “Dos and Don’ts” of getting on and off the buses with students demonstrating the correct behaviors.
The classes will be taught twice a year by Oct. 1 and March 1.
“We have done this for a number of years without incident, so this is not something brand new. It’s probably been in existence for four or five years now without issues,” said School Committee Chair Bill Day.