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Woodland Park students finally able to catch a bus to school next school year

The Woodland Park School District expanded its bus services to recently added school, Merit Academy, at no added costs
Posted at 5:35 PM, Mar 23, 2023

WOODLAND PARK, Colo. — Woodland Park students can catch a bus to Merit Academy, a newly added campus, next school year.

Merit Academy was chartered early this school year without bus services.

One parent said he has to drive one hour every day just to pick up and drop off his kids.

"You do want you got to do for your kids to drive them to the school that you want them to attend," said Merit Academy parent Mike Demuth.

Demuth said he's excited his kids can just take the bus next year.

"Dropping the kids off at the bus stop, heading back home and getting back to work as opposed to driving all the way into town burning gas," said Demuth.

The bus services are not adding any financial burden to the district.

The school board president said the district doesn't have to add more bus drivers or routes because Merit Academy shares the same building with Woodland Park Middle School.

Safety will improve with more students catching the bus, said the school board president David Rusterholtz.

"Another problem was traffic congestion around drop off and pick up for our kids, which did create safety hazards for the kids walking to school," said Rusterholtz.

According to the district's bus service contractor, riding a bud to school is 12 times safer than driving a car and 10 times safer than walking.

Rusterholtz said the district is saving money by relying on Durham School Services.

"We don't have the buses to maintain, we don't have the logistics of the additional employees," said Rusterholtz.

The company shares bus drivers with other school districts so Woodland Park hasn't run into any shortages, said Rusterholtz.

Merit Academy is the fastest growing campus in the district. Almost 400 students are expected to be enrolled next school year, that's about 100 more students currently enrolled.

"[The bus service] will be a great thing for Merit, it would really show how much Merit's growing," said Demuth.

Sixth grade will be moving to the elementary school level next year. Rusterholtz said there are no capacity concerns given the number of buses and students.

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