Officials deny request to change school bus route

— The safest decision is often the decision to do nothing at all, Hayden school board members decided Thursday night.

The Hayden School District Board of Education voted unanimously to not change a particular bus route along the intersection of Routt County roads 69 and 69A, despite a family's request that the route be changed to accommodate their child.

The family's house unfortunately lies a half-mile beyond a dangerous railroad crossing, which a bus would need to cross in order to drop off the child after school.

Five years ago, some of the same school board members mulled over a similar request made by a different family living in the same house.

The parents wanted the district to divert the same bus route so their child could be dropped off beyond the same railroad crossing, Board President Kathy Hockin said.

Their request was denied.

Board members argued that changing their previous position by voting in favor of the more recent request would set a dangerous precedent.

"You're really opening up a can of worms when you say no to one and yes to another," Hockin said.

If fairness is to be maintained, then the board would need to treat one family's request as no different than another's, Board Secretary Jody Camilletti added.

"We can't get ourselves caught in this position of saying one thing and then reversing what we said," Camilletti said.

Board members back in 1996 agreed it was too dangerous for a school bus to cross a railroad crossing that raised so many concerns about visibility and grade.

Buses are required by law to stop anywhere between 15 and 50 feet before a railroad crossing.

It can, however, be difficult for bus drivers to judge that difference, Hayden School District Transportation Director Carl Ray said.

If they were to stop closer to 15 feet at that particular railroad crossing, their view of an oncoming train from the east would be obstructed, he added.

"As a district we're always trying to make the best decision," Ray said. "I would rather err on the side of caution with this than risk the safety of our drivers and our kids."

During the winter, the grade of the road on both sides of the railroad crossing is additionally complicated by icy conditions, he said.

Board members first considered allowing the bus driver to drop off the child before the railroad crossing, but they later agreed it would pose questions of liability if the child were injured while crossing the tracks to reach the house.

"We're turning a little kid loose to cross the train tracks," Board Vice-President Kelly Hayes said. "It's just better not to open ourselves up to that possibility."

To reach Danie Harrelson call 871-4208 or

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