Last spring, voters approved measures 5A and 5B. These initiatives infused over $500 million in much needed funds into the Jeffco School district to help with school improvements and teacher benefits, but what they didn’t do was solve the growing bus problem at our schools. For anyone who plays a sport at Green Mountain, they are well aware of the bus issue. While it has never been easy to coordinate transportation for multiple sports at 17 different high schools, the situation took a turn for the worst earlier this month with the Jeffco School transportation director issued new rules requiring transportation. Travel to any event, regardless of start time, must happen before 12:30 or after 4:30. While this four hour window might not seem like a big deal, it essentially means that athletes will be forced to miss periods 5,6, and 7, even if they don’t compete until 5PM. With over 40% of GMHS students involved in some sort of sport or club, this has a significant impact on student attendance. For instance, the cross country team, which is composed of about 45 athletes, has 7 meets that are conducted on school days. By this new requirement, they will be forced to miss at least 21 classes. That’s three entire school days that the team will miss in just on 12 week period and just one sport. Throw in football, lacrosse, and other sports, and a large portion of the school could be absent on any given day. This situation is not only difficult for the students, but it also makes it harder for the teachers, as the lack of consistency is frustrating for planning purposes. Plus, even non-athletes are impacted when up to half of their class is missing due to sporting events.
So what’s the solution? Limiting sporting events, or scheduling them on non-school days is a start, but is unrealistic due to many factors. And while hiring more bus drivers seems like the logical solution, that has seemingly been difficult for the district. Charter buses could be rented, but those cost up to three times a standard school bus, and are therefore not economically feasible. Parents could possibly drive students, which may work for smaller sports teams, but certainly not for the larger team sports at GMHS. The only possible way to alleviate the issue, it seems, is to force coaches to obtain commercial drivers licenses and become bus drivers for these events. While this is not a new concept, it does add more responsibilities and liabilities onto our already overworked teachers.
The truth is that the district does not currently have a viable “Plan B” which means that students will continue to be called out early and miss over 1/2 of the school day. It’s not ideal, and it certainly doesn’t take the “student” part of the title of student-athlete into account, but at this present moment, it’s all we’ve got.