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School bus drivers in short supply for Divide students

Posted 8/18/15 (Tue)

By Jody Michael
Divide County’s school year starts one week from today, and two of the district’s bus routes are still without a driver.
Alternatives now under consideration are not ideal, superintendent Sherlock Hirning told school board members, at a meeting Tuesday last week.
“If we don’t have drivers, we’ll have to decide how to get through it,” Hirning said.
One option, reducing the number of routes, would make each route significantly longer, and some students are already boarding as early as 6:45 a.m. Easing this might lead to a single bus stop for each city, disproportionately impacting families who live far from the center of town.
“If we have to have everybody come meet a bus at a certain point, that will require people to drive 10-15 minutes to the bus,” Hirning said.
Another possible measure of last resort would be for faculty members to drive the remaining routes, which could hinder instructional time.
Although driving a bus requires a commercial driver’s license, the school also uses smaller vehicles that do not require additional licensing.
More information is available from the district office at 965-6313.
Extracurricular eligibility
The high school is changing grade requirements for students participating in extracurricular activities.
“We had allowed students to participate in sports with an F,” Principal Russ McKenna said, but that will change now to a ‘D.’ 
The requirements had actually lowered last year as a result of the district’s new grading scale. Prior to the 2014-15 school year, anything below 75 percent was a failing grade, but that has loosened to anything below 69 percent.
“We need to put some responsibility on these students,” McKenna said, adding that students have ample opportunity to get help with their coursework at lunchtime, after school and during study periods.
Grade checks will occur weekly. Students with a failing grade will have a one-week probation before becoming ineligible.
Board Member Shari DeJardine expressed displeasure with the rule change.
“Not everybody is a straight-A student, even if they put in just as much effort,” she said. “Taking away from people who need that outlet, I don’t think that helps them.”
DeJardine also had concern that students may be ineligible longer than necessary if some teachers do not update their grade books promptly.
Fellow Board Member Coby Hubble favors the move.
“Even when I was in high school as a student-athlete, ‘student’ always came first,” he said. “Keep your grades up. Raising it to a D, I don’t think that’s too much to ask.”
The six-week extracurricular suspension for students illegally possessing drugs or alcohol will now extend to school-sponsored events such as homecoming and prom.
School officials began considering such action after the Divide County Sheriff’s Department broke up a party in March and charged about two dozen students with underage alcohol possession.