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Somers Schools Consider Three-Tier Bus System

SOMERS, N.Y. - The Somers Board of Education met on Tuesday evening to discuss next year’s preliminary budget.

Finding ways to trim the budget is “an ongoing process. You don’t just suddenly come up with something. We try to take every opportunity to examine an idea,” said Board President Maureen Miller.

One of the ideas under examination involves the school bus system. Somers Transportation Director, Joe Bernardi, explained the current school bus system and showed how a savings of $125,000 could be realized.

“We currently work on a four-tier system. That is, we carry four various groups of children to four different schools -- Primrose, SIS, the Middle School and the High School -- at four various times. There are 3,4000 students altogether,” Bernardi said.

According to Bernardi, the system could be streamlined by going to a three-tier system where the high school and Primrose would be treated as one group, while the intermediate and middle schools would be treated as another group. Advantages would include shorter bus routes and the need for two less buses. More students would congregate at bus stops, requiring fewer stops.

The change would add a few more campus monitors, and school bell times would be adjusted by 15 minutes.

“But not everybody would consider that a disadvantage,” Bernardi said.

A possible disadvantage is that greater congestion would probably occur, especially on Route 202.

Bernardi said that the current system delivers 800 kids during a 15 or 20 minute period in the morning. A three-tier system would deliver about 1500 at one time.

“We have asked the Department of Transportation to help alleviate the congestion with different lighting or a traffic light, but they keep turning us down,” Bernardi said.

Congestion would increase on school grounds as well, he added, and adjustments would have to be made to traffic patterns. Some parents are concerned about intermingling small children with older ones.

Vincenzo Recine, a senior at Somers High School, spoke during the public comment.

“When I was in third grade we had the three-tier system. There was a lot of disorder on the bus. But I think that conduct has improved,” Recine said. “I don’t think that 8th graders will mess with 3rd graders. And on a positive note, I think it would help kids develop socially if they interacted with other ages at an earlier time. It’s a good thing. And it will save a lot of money.”

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