A steady increase in enrollment and the implementation of full-day kindergarten has prompted the Indian River School District to discontinue home bus service for some Southern Delaware School of the Arts students.
In a letter sent to SDSA parents, whose students ride buses from the Georgetown and Millsboro areas, Principal Neil A. Beahan said the increase in students this fall will fill district buses to capacity.
“SDSA students will not be able to ride in on their home school bus nor ride home on their home school bus,” Beahan wrote. “Parents will have to drive their children to shuttle sites as do SDSA parents from the other district schools.”
Indian River officials said a similar letter was sent to parents last year, letting them know the change in bus service was a possibility.
Because SDSA is a magnet school, or one that offers specialized courses or curricula, the institution follows Delaware law regarding school choice. The law affords students a choice, if capacity exists, regarding which public school they’d like to attend between and within districts.
In the same respect, districts do not have to provide bus service to and from magnet schools because other options are available to the students.
For several years, the district has offered home pick up and drop off for SDSA students. These students ride a school bus to a shuttle site, where they board another bus that takes them to SDSA. The process is reversed in the afternoons, as buses transport SDSA students back to their shuttle site, where they board a school bus and are taken home.
Shuttle sites are scattered throughout the county, some being at schools and others at local businesses or fire halls.
Some SDSA parents are taking issue with the new arrangement, saying their work schedules do not allow them to drop off and pick up their children from the shuttle sites.
At a recent Indian River Board of Education meeting, Lucinda Mancuso said her two children, a sixth grader and an eighth grader, are picked up at home and transported to East Millsboro Elementary School where they take a shuttle to SDSA. Mancuso said if their transportation to East Millsboro Elementary is no longer available, she will have to remove them from SDSA, a school they have attended since first grade.
“My children love SDSA, and they don’t want to leave, but at this point our hands are tied,” Mancuso said. “As a parent, it’s kind of hard to tell a child they can’t go to the school they like because of bussing issues.”
Cheryl Arnold said her two children also ride the shuttle from East Millsboro Elementary to SDSA, and there’s no way she and her husband can rearrange their work schedules in order to pick them up at 2:45 p.m. on school days.
Page 2 of 2 - “I supported full-time kindergarten [at referendum] but I did not think it was going to affect me personally,” Arnold said. “I know this is a choice school, but maybe grandfather people in.”
Osvaldo Paxtor said his daughter takes the shuttle between the two schools.
“The other day I asked my daughter what she thought about going to school in Millsboro and she said no because she thinks SDSA is a good school and she feels comfortable there,” Paxtor said. “It’s hard for me to make a decision for her if she likes to go there.”
Rodney Layfield, vice president of the school board, said the district will consider any alternatives, but he emphasized that SDSA’s magnet classification does require bus service.
“Hopefully we can provide transportation, but right now it doesn’t seem feasible with the amount of kindergarten students we have coming in,” Layfield said.