WELCH - The state Department of Education plans to require county transportation directors to report the time students spend on buses every year, state Superintendent David Stewart said Wednesday.
"We'll develop a method to collect travel times each year in a standardized schedule," Stewart said during a state Board of Education meeting in McDowell County. "We'll put it in a standardized format."
The computerized system will enable state officials to determine how many students ride longer than state guidelines - 30 minutes or less one-way for elementary children, 45 minutes for middle school students and an hour for high school students.
"You'll be able to see all the schools that operate outside guidelines," Stewart said.
Stewart said state department administrators also will examine the bus time guidelines in the coming months to see whether they should be changed.
State school officials have acknowledged that a spate of school closings during the past decade contributed to longer rides for children. West Virginia school buses also must traverse some of the toughest terrain in the nation.
The number of children who ride buses more than two hours each day doubled during the 1990s, even though 25,000 fewer students ride buses.
More than half of all bus routes in rural West Virginia exceed state guidelines, according to an Aug. 25 report in the Sunday Gazette-Mail.