We have a new transportation policy for high school students.
Each spring, we will start the next year’s routing by eliminating tenth, eleventh, and twelfth grade students from the routes.
We will ask for input from those students and/or their parents about who will still need a bus ride and reinstate their privilege to ride the bus immediately.
Then we will commence creating routes, using what we believe to be the number of students riding the bus.
Why make a change? Why include tenth grade students when many cannot yet drive?
We have good reasons!
First, there are not very many students who use the bus regularly beyond ninth grade. Many students have after-school activities and older siblings and friends who drive.
Second, it is extremely difficult to get information from parents about the use of the school bus. Many are worried that if they don’t sign-up for a bus ride, they won’t be able to get one EVER. The truth is, it is extremely easy to add a student back to the route, and only takes us a few minutes. So a parent could call any time during the year and have a bus ride for their student the next day.
Third, we do not want to add school buses and the additional expense to the routing system when we don’t yet need to do so.
This is the first year we’ve attempted to use this new practice. I printed the letters and brought them to the schools to be sent home with report cards, something I thought most parents would be excited to read. We got responses from a number of students, so I thought that method of communication had been effective.
We sent another letter with bus information on it about ten days ago, noting that changes would be suspended effective August 27.
Then, worried that we might not have great addresses for everyone or that some people might not read through the letter and understand the new practice, I called the Superintendent and expressed my concern. He had a great solution – he would be able to use their new mass communication technology to call every family and remind them to make sure bus information was up to date. We got more responses after that, and well within the time frame to make adjustments to buses.
Some parents are upset about not having time to reinstate their students’ rides, and we certainly understand that concern. But every student we add changes the time slightly (each student has a pre-set “loading time” of a few seconds in the software) and also adds one more rider to very full buses. My greatest worry is that those people who responded in a timely fashion might not have a seat if we continue to add later registrants to the bus route. And it’s far too late to change buses around or change which developments are paired because, again, there’s no way to communicate that to the people who responded in a timely fashion.
I think we have a good solution for next year, though. I’ve asked whether it would be possible to use some classroom time next spring to have students complete a bus registration form during the school day. We will be able to present their current information to them, and then ask them the following questions:
Will you ride the bus:
- every morning?
- every afternoon?
- only between sports seasons?
- only if your car breaks?
- only occasionally?
Will you need a different bus stop?
THEN we’ll send home letters with the report cards.
I think that might be a good solution.