Proposal puts K-8 students on same buses in Salem - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Proposal puts K-8 students on same buses in Salem

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Children in kindergarten through eighth grade in Salem could soon be sharing a ride to and from school and some parents aren't pleased.

Many parents are upset for a couple of reasons.

Not all are comfortable with their kindergartner sharing the bus with an eighth-grader and some parents feel blindsided because they only learned of the proposal days ago.

"People who only have young children aren't real comfortable with them riding in the middle school bus," said Salem mother Kate Belleville, who has daughters in second, fifth and eighth grades.

Belleville told Eyewitness News she's concerned about what younger ones could be exposed to when riding next to an eighth-grader for several hours a week.

"What may be coming out of the mouths of children and just the whole maturity level is very different for a 13-year-old versus a 5- or 6-year-old," Belleville said.

With a student body of 419, Salem school has seen enrollment drop in recent years.

Couple that with a budget that's calling for a $100,000 cut, and changes need to be made.

Administrators are also considering having both schools adopt the same class schedule, with school starting at 8:40 a.m. and ending at 3:25 p.m.

The school superintendent wasn't available Tuesday and his executive assistant declined to explain the idea to Eyewitness News.

Parents weren't happy with the communication either, saying they heard it through the grapevine.

"It's a very small town so I heard it through various friends," Belleville said.

The idea of combining all grades in buses isn't new.

Salem just switched over nine years ago, and some parents who have lived through it don't see what the big deal is.

"It was always K-8 with me," said Salem mother Debra Pazzaglia. "So, I was used to being on the bus with older kids, so it's what I know. I don't really have any fears about it with my children."

Right now, this proposal is just in the discussion phase.

The numbers are still being worked out, so an approximate savings still isn't known.

However, a vote is expected in the coming weeks.

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