Dickinson Public Schools bus routes may be phased out with city limits expansionsAs the city of Dickinson continues to grow, Dickinson Public School’s seven bus routes are in danger of becoming a thing of the past.
By: Betsy Simon, The Dickinson Press
As the city of Dickinson continues to grow, Dickinson Public School’s seven bus routes are in danger of becoming a thing of the past.
North Dakota public schools are not mandated to offer transportation services at all, according to North Dakota Department of Public Instruction, but DPS provides the service for students living outside the city limits, said Burton Lewton, transportation director for Dickinson Public Schools.
Besides rural students, Dickinson Public School Superintendent Doug Sullivan added that some students with disabilities are also entitled to school transportation.
The number of bus routes the school runs has remained the same since Sullivan became superintendent four years ago.
But he said that number could decrease in years to come if the city continues to expand its borders and annex more land.
And that could happen in the next 10 years if the city sticks with its urban service boundary plan.
Shawn Kessel, Dickinson city administrator, said it is estimated that the city could grow to between 40,000 and 45,000 people, so an urban service boundary was created to plan for extensions of water and wastewater systems during the next 10 years.
“If land is located within the urban service boundary, it could be looked at to be annexed into the city,” Kessel said.
Kenneth Steiner, who handles school transportation for the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction in Fargo, said the state’s public school districts are not required by law to provide busing.
But if a district chooses to offer transportation, “it must provide busing consistently to all like students,” Steiner said.
“That would mean if there is a school district that provides busing to students on the east side of a town, then they would also be required to provide busing to all of the students who live on the west side of the town,” he said.
Historically, he said North Dakota’s public schools have not charged students for transportation, but Steiner thought there may be a select few schools that assess a charge for transportation services.
DPS is one of those schools, Sullivan said.
The district assesses a fee for rural busing services provided to 223 students. The fee varies based on the number of children in a family and whether the student rides the bus in the morning, afternoon or both.
Steiner said school districts are reimbursed by the state for transportation costs, unless students live within a few miles of a school district. Then, the cost of those miles would not be reimbursed.
“That’s a reason some schools don’t provide busing to students who live within city limits,” Steiner said. “If those students would live within that diameter of the building that schools are not reimbursed for, then it may not be feasible for a district to provide busing to those students if they won’t be reimbursed for the miles.”
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