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Helmut Schmidt, Published September 05 2012

VIDEO: Moorhead dad unhappy with school transportation glitches

MOORHEAD – Ask Matt Entzion about how well the Moorhead School District is handling his children’s busing and he’ll tell you he’s an unhappy pappy.

On the first day of school Tuesday, Entzion’s three children and a few neighborhood kids had to be driven to Horizon Middle School by his wife because the bus didn’t show in their 48th Avenue Southwest neighborhood.

That afternoon, buses picked up Horizon students late, and his kids didn’t get home until about 5 p.m.

Wednesday morning was almost a repeat, with the bus pulling into sight as Entzion’s wife was again loading the kids into her vehicle.

“Last night, I was surprised that (a local television news show) reported that everything had gone smoothly,” Entzion said Wednesday. “Anybody that’s in Moorhead knows that things didn’t go smoothly.”

Assistant Superintendent Wayne Kazmierczak admits the district had transportation glitches. In fact, parents of Horizon students received an emailed apology Tuesday for bus delays.

Bus routes were trimmed from 51 routes last year to 43 this year, Kazmierczak said, which should save the district $325,000 to $400,000 a year.

But changed bus routes weren’t the problem, he said.

The late departures from Horizon on Tuesday were largely due to buses pulling away from elementary schools 15 to 35 minutes late because staff wanted to be sure each child was on the right bus, he said.

Entzion contends the Horizon problems don’t end at the bus. He said his children eat breakfast at 8 a.m., start school at 9:05 a.m., and are eating again by 11:04, in the first of three half-hour lunch periods. The school day ends at 3:50 p.m., so that means they don’t get anything else to eat until they get home.

“That’s quite a gap for kids to have to go through,” he said.

Kazmierczak said the district won’t be moving Horizon’s lunch times right now.

To have Horizon’s students eat an hour later would mean the last lunches would be served about 1:30 p.m. In that case, Kazmierczak said, he’d hear complaints from parents about how long their kids had to wait to eat.

Entzion warns that if the busing problems continue, it could affect students.

He said if late buses cause a student to miss 15 to 20 minutes a day from a class like algebra, a learning deficit will develop.

But Kazmierczak said problems crop up every year as 4,500 students are bused, and they will be resolved.

“It takes us a few days to iron out the wrinkles. We are moving a lot of students,” he said. “The logistics are quite a puzzle. We’ve got very good people employed by the district and they do outstanding work.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583

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