CAMDENTON, Mo. — Camdenton R-III High School parent Amy Roderick says she was recently shocked to find out that her sophomore daughter was told to walk the back roads to the public library after school. Last year, Roderick's daughter rode a shuttle bus from the high school to the middle school, and then she crossed Business Highway 5, with the assistance of a school resource officer, then walked the rest of the way to the Camden County Library. “It was much safer,” Roderick said.
Her daughter regularly goes to the public library after school to study, to check out books that are not available at the school, and to play video games. She also walks from the library to youth group meetings at the First Baptist Church.
“My daughter said they cancelled the shuttle buses this year, so I called the school to ask why,” Roderick said. “I don’t want my daughter walking that back road to the library. It is curvy, and teens drive way too fast for the road conditions. It is desolate and the perfect place for predators to grab a kid.”
Roderick informed parents on Facebook that the shuttle bus was canceled this year, and she received many comments from concerned parents. “I don’t understand why they didn’t tell parents?” Roderick questioned. “I work nights and I do not want my daughter walking that road, and when I called the school to ask why they just told me the shuttle was cancelled.”
According to Camdenton R-III School District Superintendent Tim Hadfield, the primary function of the Camdenton R-III School District Transportation Department—what they are legally responsible for and required to do—is provide transportation to and from school to students that live 3.5 miles from the school, and provide transportation to after school daycares.
“We had issues with overcrowding on buses, with students hopping buses at the high school and riding them to the transfer line at the middle school,” Hadfield explained. “They were not going home or catching a bus to a daycare, but they were going to various locations in town, one of them being the library. This is not a function of the transportation department, nor a requirement of elementary and secondary education. Transportation to the library is over and above our responsibilities. I recommend that if a parent has concerns about their student walking to the library, they find alternative transportation to their after-school activities.”
Several parents noted that there had been problems with unruly teenagers causing trouble at the library, to the point the police were called in to deal with the youth. The alleged issues were smoking, drugs, fighting, weapons and more. “I am aware of issues at other places in town. I don’t know if that transfer was a factor in that at all, or not,” Hadfield commented.
The Camdenton R-III school district has a fleet of 78 buses. They have 59 routes that transport approximately 3,300 students on a daily basis, on regular routes.
For the last 19 years, their fleet has undergone a very intense annual inspection by the MoDOT, through the Missouri Highway Patrol Department. They have been awarded the Fleet Excellence Award every year. A 90 percent must be attained to receive this prestigious award. The lowest score they have ever received was 96.9 percent. Twelve of the nineteen years they have been awarded 100 percent.
The Camdenton R-III Website Transportation Page states this as their mission: “The main mission of the Camdenton School District Transportation Department is to transport our most precious cargo in the safest and most efficient manner possible.”