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Several bus aides cut in Newfane school district

NEWFANE, N.Y. (WIVB) - When elementary school students in the Newfane Central School District return to class on Tuesday, they will notice something different. The group the district uses to bus students to and from school will no longe put aides on every route.

The decision, ultimately, was made by school officials in an effort to keep costs down, district superintendent Michael Baumann said.

"I don't see it creating a safety concern, because the drivers of the buses are all very well trained in monitoring the students as they're on the buses, as well as when they're getting off the buses and crossing streets," Baumann said.

Baumann said when the transportation contract with Ridge Road Buses was rebid this past year, costs increased by almost 50 percent. The decrease in number of bus aides from 14 to four is an attempt to minimize the jump.

"It's not acceptable to me," said Aaliyah McCanna, whose son will enter second grade this year.

McCanna and her mother are both raising concerns about the changes.

"My son was in a different district last year," Aaliyah said. "He was bullied and there were a lot of incidents. The cameras did not help at all. There was no aide on that."

"Is it going to be a four-year-old, five-year-old's responsibility to make sure they harness themselves properly? Or is it going to be the bus driver's responsibility now?" asked Aaliyah's mother Kim McCanna. "The aides do a wonderful job of stopping things before they get started."

Baumann wrote a letter to parents, which was posted on the district's website, in an attempt to alleviate concerns. In it, he pointed out the economics of the situation.

"(A transportation consultant) pointed out that Newfane was the only district using bus aides on all regular bus runs," Baumann added in the letter. "Most districts only use aides where mandated by special education needs of the students."

The four aides the district will be retaining on the buses will rotate through different runs each day. That's not good enough for everybody, however.

"I don't even want him to be on the bus," Aaliyah McCanna said. "I'm actually thinking about just taking him to school myself."

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