Dartmouth to bus more students

School Committee tackles challenges for 2016-2017
Jul 12, 2016

Fewer Dartmouth students will be walking to school come September.

The Dartmouth School Committee voted on July 11 to shorten the district's "walk zones" for 2016-2017 school year.

A total of 208 middle and high school students currently live within the existing walk zones—a 1.5 mile radius surrounding each of the schools—but that will change come September when walk zones shorten to a half-mile radius and will include only 47 families.

“This would significantly improve the ability for students to walk on sidewalks,” said Dartmouth School Business Administrator James Kiely.

Shortening the walk zones is mainly a response to traffic and sidewalk availability around busy roads, he said.

Door-to-door pickup won’t be available for everyone, said Kiely. There will be students who have to walk to a bus stop, and bus routes will be longer to accommodate the increase in passengers, he said.

The change will not cost the town any extra money this fiscal year, although it may affect the cost companies charge to provide busing services in the future, he said.

It didn’t make sense to eliminate the walk zones at the middle and high schools altogether because of the traffic it would cause around the schools themselves, Kiely explained.

Considering alternate bus routes, School Committee member Christopher Garth said the committee needs to communicate with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) to see what the implications of the Padanaram Causeway construction are going to be for the south side of town. The bridge will be shut down for the foreseeable future.

"The construction around Faunce Corner Road was an interruption. This is a complete blocking off," said Garth.

Kiely responded: “It’s going to wreak havoc on our bus routes, especially for DeMello and Cushman schools. There’s no ferry across.”