Misawa school officials address transport concerns
MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan — Officials are looking for ways to alleviate parents’ concerns with possible transportation problems when about 150 children are transferred between base elementary schools when the new school year stars in August.
Parents raised the issues during a town hall meeting Wednesday night concerning the move of students from Sollars Elementary School, on the main base, to Cummings Elementary, on the north side.
The base announced earlier this year it was rezoning off-base bus routes and moving students to Cummings to help a flagging student population there while alleviating soaring student numbers at Sollars.
Much of Wednesday’s meeting focused on transportation: How will kids who want to participate in after-school activities at the school get home or to the school-age services? Are there enough buses to transport the 150 children each day? Why make the kids who live farthest from the base travel all the way to the north side of Misawa to switch schools?
There is currently one bus dedicated to taking children to their 35th Force Support Squadron-run after-school care or activity programs directly after school.
On Thursday, 35th Force Support Squadron officials who run those programs said they were looking for a fix.
“DODDS and FSS officials are working the logistics with operating a second bus run for children who participate in DODDS after school extracurricular activities,” Mitch Hebert, 35th FSS deputy commander, wrote in an e-mail to Stars and Stripes.
That way, the children could attend their DODDS after-school activities and take a later bus to the main side of base to join the FSS activity.
Chris Zeitvogel, the student transportation manager at Misawa, said during a phone interview that the Department of Defense Dependents Schools System cannot provide transportation to those after-school activities, only for commuting purposes.
Zeitvogel said that under the new routes, children in the affected areas will spend less time on the bus since they won’t have to stop by the high school to drop off the older kids.
He added that while he expects two buses will be adequate to serve the needs of that area, even if all 150 kids register for the bus, he’ll keep a close eye on things.
In a worst-case scenario, he can seat three elementary kids per seat and take 75 in each bus.
“We’re not going to make that a daily practice,” he said, adding that he would look for ways to add another bus to the route if it becomes a problem.
School officials urge early registrationMISAWA AIR BASE, Japan — School officials say they want parents whose children must move between elementary schools to start the registration process as quickly as possible.
Registration paperwork must be submitted at Sollars Elementary School.
Parents seeking a waiver to keep their children at Sollars instead of moving them to Cummings Elementary School as planned may submit requests during the registration process.
School officials stressed that there is no guarantee on waivers, and final decisions probably won’t be made until August.
For more information on registration, call Sollars at 226-3933.