Kindergarten, Here We Come!

This week kicks off Kindergarten registration, also known as Kindergarten Round-Up. This is the first of a two-part series. In August, Kindergarten Count-Down (part two in the series) takes place and includes the Kindergarten students. Part one is for parents.

There is so much for parents to learn when it’s time for their child to start school, and they are often filled with equal parts trepidation and excitement. I know I was!

One of the great unknowns for Kindergarten parents – especially first timers – is how their student will manage their first experience with mass transportation.
There are two keys to a positive transportation experience.
The first is that parents are positive, talking to their children about how much fun it will be to ride the bus, reading colorful and happy bus stories (we never recommend Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus), and avoiding burdening their children with worries or fears.
For the adults involved in transportation, the key is that all parties have adequate information. We need to know names and addresses and phone numbers for a number of people. We also need to know the child’s schedule in great detail.
Our first responsibility is to collect information from parents using the Transportation Registration Form.

Once we’ve received responses for each student, we being a “file” for each student, paying great attention to pick-up and drop-off locations. For many students that location is the same. For a growing number of students, two or three addresses are involved.

We plot each student on a master map that we will use until just after school starts. It’s an electronic map with lots of hand-written notes and bright colors symbolizing many transportation-related things (red for home, green for dc, blue for boy, pink for girl, etc.).
We study the geographic clusters of students and find ways to efficiently map routes so buses aren’t driving in circles or adding excess miles. We consider:
  • How can we best fill a bus on the way home from school and then fill it again on the way back to school?
  • How can we make sure our youngest students are not getting on or off the bus in the dark?
  • How can we plot the most efficient routes while keeping students on the right side of the bus?
  • How can we meet the most parental requests?
  • How can we plan for address changes?

The 2009-2010 routes looked like this:

East to West we travel 23.02 miles. North to South, we travel 9.57 miles. That’s a lot of distance to accommodate in a relatively short amount of time.

Students actually appear where you see brackets. (If there is no student where you see a color indicating a route, it’s because the student only rides certain days. When those “missing” students don’t ride, we don’t travel those roads.)

We like to assign our furthest students to the AM class. If we assign them PM, they may not get off the bus until after dark during winter months.

Some students in a neighborhood will be assigned to AM, while others (maybe even on the same street) will be assigned PM.

The yellow route is “PM” and the green route is AM. Note that students living just a few houses apart are in separate classes.

That occurs because students need to fit on the regular early AM and late PM K-5 routes too. If one neighborhood were all AM, the early morning route carrying K-5 would be very full and the same bus on PM route would have empty seats.

Have more questions? Give us a call. We get excited about routing, transportation geeks that we are!

Safe Driving!

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