CUMBERLAND – In addition to shorter walking distances for students in Cumberland, a new school busing policy also lays out standards of behavior at bus stops and on buses.

Mark Fiorillo, chairman of the Cumberland School Committee’s policy subcommittee, said the new policy recommended last week to go to the full school board tonight, Sept. 23, is something he’s wanted to complete for a long time to build on a “bare-bones” existing policy.

What members found was that most policies in the state resemble Cumberland’s current skeleton policy, he said, though with “some weird details.” The ones with the best policies tend to have their own bus service through the community or have smaller contractors, he said, with a lot of detail included.

Fiorillo said he never liked having a policy covering barely a quarter of a page, with no real rules. The distances were a big thing, he said, proposed to go to a half-mile, three quarters of a mile, and one mile for the different grade levels, but these rules are also important.

Students are misbehaving on buses for various reasons, he said, and families need to understand that just because busing is mandated by law doesn’t mean it can’t be taken away for bad behavior.

Here are the rules recommended by the subcommittee and up for a vote of the full committee:

Bus stops

• Students should arrive at their bus stop at least 10 minutes prior to their bus arrival time.

• Bus stops are considered an extension of school property. Students must follow all rules applicable to student conduct as if they were in a classroom.

• Students shall respect the personal property of landowners near the bus stop.

• Bus stops should be placed at more frequent intervals to prevent congestion.

• Parents of high school students or high school students who have reached the age of 18 may request a change to their assigned bus and/or bus stop enabling them to be dropped off closer to their place of employment. The request must be submitted on the necessary form and signed by the student, parent/guardian and employer confirming employment

Passenger rules

• The bus driver is in full charge of the school bus. Students must always obey the bus driver.

• The school bus is considered an extension of school property. Students must follow all rules applicable to student conduct as if they were in a classroom.

• Students shall ride their regularly assigned bus unless permission has been given by the building administrator.

• Students should not talk with the driver more than is necessary while the bus is in operation.

• Parents/legal guardians may be held financially responsible for any damage done to the school bus.

• Student misconduct will not be tolerated. Building administrators will discipline students according to school policy.

“Students may temporarily or permanently forfeit their right to ride a school bus if they violate these rules,” it states. “Parents will receive a written warning if their student’s conduct places them in danger of temporarily or permanently losing their bus privileges. The building administrator shall follow up with a phone conversation or in-person meeting with the parent/legal guardian.”

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