Turlock City News

Turlock City News

Pitman Band Parents Irate Over District Transportation Policy

Jonathan McCorkell/TurlockCityNews.com

There was one clear determination made from Tuesday’s Turlock Unified School District Board of Trustees meeting — don’t toot your horn at the Pitman Pride Marching Band parents and boosters.

More than 30 band parents and student crowded the Professional Development Center voicing their stern opposition to the TUSD transportation policy in regards to how Boosters pay for transportation to band reviews and band activities in cities across California.

During recent trips to band reviews in Elk Grove and Santa Cruz, parents said the district forced them to use TUSD school buses, even though they claim they found charter buses at cheaper prices, with more storage, on-board bathrooms and comfortable seating.

“We are trying to get transportation to band reviews, but due to TUSD policy we have to use their buses, which are more expensive, do not have enough storage and do not have bathrooms,” said George Somers, a band parent, teacher and member of the boosters.

Somers explained that during trips out of town individual booster parents often volunteer to pull trailers because TUSD buses lack the storage capacity for all 160 of the Marching Pride equipment and instruments.

Numerous parents say the current policy fails to put the needs of the students first.

However, the TUSD Superintendent Sonny Da Marto and several of the board members pointed out that while on the surface the policy may not make sense, there is much more involved.

“(TUSD) must honor our contract with CSEA (California School Employee Association) and while the money for the transportation is coming from boosters it is still a school activity,” said Da Marto. “The other aspect to this is the district’s liability.”

When boosters hire charter buses for transportation they must ensure the company and driver are in good standing with California Highway Patrol and state law so students can be transported safely and legally.

“We did our own research into these companies and trust me, we are parents and these are our kids, safety comes first and then money,” said Booster President Lori Denego.

Both the parents, trustees and Da Marto reached an agreement that while labor contracts should be honored, there is existing language in the current contract that allows TUSD to use charter buses to transport students during extensive trips or for unique situations like the need for more storage.

TUSD staff will look at the language and return to the Board of Trustees to make a determination if boosters can use charter buses for band activities.

According to TUSD staff reports, about 20 percent of the bus budget is used for field trips. The Marching Pride only go on about three to four band reviews per year.

Trustee Frank Lima says the Marching Pride should be considered a “unique situation,” and thusly parents should not have to use TUSD buses if it is determined the language allows for them to use alternate means of transportation .

On average the Pitman Marching Band Boosters raise between $30,000 to $40,000 a year and two-thirds of that cost goes to paying for transportation to and from band reviews.

While at a band review in Santa Cruz last weekend, the Marching Pride missed placing by .05 points.

“I wonder if there were bathrooms on that bus, if that had been enough to place?” said Somers.

Boosters pointed out that the money they save by using a charter bus could be used to buy more band uniforms, equipment, and to repair instruments.

Another issue the band parents had was that when the students get on the bus for band reviews they often leave at early hours of the morning, sometimes as early as 5 a.m., and return late into the evening at 8 p.m. However the lights at Pitman are shut off and parents have to use lights from their cell phones to help the kids load up their equipment.

Comments 13

  1. Booster Parent says:

    The concern from Dr. daMarto regarding overall liability when students use charter busing is reasonable and valid. Except, all bus carriers in the State of California must be DOT BIT inspected, records maintained, buses kept in mandatory working order and drivers properly issued State DMV Class A/B licenses. VIA Charters in Merced is ranked as one of the top charter bus services in the United States. Their insurance levels exceed the State mandatory minimums for charter bus services. Not to be forgotten, the TUSD policy on Booster Organizations require the Band Boosters to carry extensive policy limits as well. This Booster organization is made up of local CPA’s, business owners, teachers, administrators, financial officers, District Attorney staff……the list goes on and on. Point is, they are not stupid and as a whole are no longer satisfied with the, “we entered into a contract that unfortunately costs more so you must endure…it’s out of our hands”. Sounds good, so start paying for the buses and stop giving us the option of just staying home. Mediocrity is not an option for our talented students. “Students First”….right?

  2. THE COACH V says:



  3. Student's First says:

    It is very clear that TUSD believes that students are there to provide them an easy living and very nice retirement fund. Student’s First… if only.

  4. Haha says:

    You’re not Coach V, he would’ve had more class. Plus he’s not an idiot that would have kept Cap Locks on. Your break is over, so get off the computer and make some more fries for the customers.

  5. Wes Luttrell says:

    I side with the Band Boosters on this issue, but what always bothered me (as a student and an educator) is how the Band Boosters were forced to raise the money to attend functions to represent the school while sports teams were not required to factor in transportation costs as part of their budget. Why is one activity more important than the other? Simply put: money.

    At California State University, Fresno, I had the privilege of speaking in front of the Bulldog Foundation’s Board of Directors to argue this point. The Bulldog Foundation raised over 20 million dollars annually, yet the music department received less than one half of one percent of that revenue. Every year, the bands supported the sports teams, represented the university to the highest degree, sometimes sacrificing part of Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Year’s family gatherings to attend a football game to support the team and the university.

    I empathize with these students and their parents, who put in countless hours dedicating themselves to strive ever higher as representatives of their school. And all they ask for are more affordable and comfortable buses. These students deserve better from the administration. But most of all, these students deserve better from the coaches and staff of the sports teams they support every week. [b]Coaches like “Coach V,” whose comments here are absolutely disrespectful and uncalled for. “Coach V,” your name calling and insults are a true testament to your lack of character. I hope everyone of your athletes take a lesson in how not to treat the people who support you on a daily basis.[/b]

    Wes Luttrell
    CSU, Fresno Bulldog Marching Band Alum 1996-2002
    Clovis High School Marching Band Alum 1992-1996

  6. Guest says:

    Food Services is another issue. Kids can’t celebrate birthdays anymore due to Soiseths new policy because he only wants his nasty school food used. The Food Service is long overdue for an audit of Food Service Funds and outside contracts Soiseth has engaged that related to his former Red Steer that fell victim of arson by Soiseths son in law.

  7. Guest says:

    Kids are being denied lunch at school because their parents owe a couple of dollars. Then the kids watch food service employees throw the hot lunch into the trash and hand a straight bread and piece of cheese sandwich. Not grilled. As the child cried. Thanks Soiseth for your wonderful policies. Whatever is best for the kids. Hope his son is a better man than his father

  8. groin ferret says:

    tryouts for wrastlin nov 10th please have your mom there for opening night

  9. Christ almighty says:

    How did anyone get through band and place without busses with bathrooms before? Could you be more coddling of your child whose education you can’t pay for – you’d rather property owners foot that bill? Listen, no one cares about your flute playin kid making medals. Stop acting like your kids should have to wait. And get your hand out of my pocket and pay for your kids education yourself and stop whining.

  10. Guest says:

    To the people that are making comments about the food program!
    Pull your heads out of the hole you have stuck it in. Soiseth is not to blame! The crapy parents that don’t pay for there children to eat are to blame and Mechelle Obama is the dictator on the food program. So you do your duty as an American and right your (*edited by tcn) president, congressman and senator about your issues insted of making uneducated statements. To get informed on the war against Michelle Obamas food program go to the http://www.drudge report.com

  11. Guest says:

    No it’s Soiseth. All Soiseth.

  12. Dear Chris Almighty says:

    Have you ever had to (*edited by tcn) or urinate on a bus without no bathroom on board. Its stressful . It would be perfect to have a bus with a (*edited by tcn) on deck to relieve any stress.

  13. Dear Christ Almighty says:

    You couldn’t possibly be more ignorant regarding the band busing issue. The [b]BOOSTERS[/b] have been raising $35-40,000 per year to pay for our own busing expenses (God forbid it came out of YOUR pocket). The [b]ISSUE[/b] is whether we must continue to pay for a more expensive bus provided by TUSD, rather than hire our own private carriers. Private coaches are less money [b]AND[/b], more importantly, have the necessary storage to handle all of the band instruments. Clearly the bathroom is a benefit, but it is not the defining reason. If TUSD requires us to use more expensive TUSD buses, then they should pay for them. I wonder how much the football, baseball and basketball teams pay for their transportation? Or is that okay because it comes from a “different” pocket, Mr. Christ Almighty? If by “coddling” you mean we are dedicated, active and involved with our children….then yes, guilty as charged. I forgive you for being so opinionated and all at once uninformed. You [i]are[/i] entitled to your opinions, but you [i]are not[/i] entitled to the facts.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recent Article Comments