We apologize for the lack of clear, detailed communication from the Transportation department about the Middle School transfer/shuttle buses prior to the first day of school.
With the coordination of Versatran (the routing system) and Skyward, we had hoped that ALL bus information would be available in Skyward. Unfortunately, it was discovered that the system cannot – at this time – properly represent transfer bus numbers/stops. This is something that the Transportation Department will continue to investigate with Skyward. Mrs. Burton and her department tried to contact parents via calls and emails over Labor Day weekend. We also hope that the bus route information shared in yesterday’s Skylert was helpful. However, a better plan of communication will be developed for the future.
We have also received questions and concerns about the routing of these transfer/shuttle buses for 2017-18. When the Board approved transportation for SOC redistricted students, Policy 5113.01 was updated accordingly to state, “For 2017-18 and 2018-19 only (during the redistricting transition period), transportation will be provided for middle school Intra-district SOC students.”
At the time, I believe we all anticipated that there would be a “dedicated transfer bus” for these students. However, due to driver shortages and additional driver resignations late this summer, the Transportation Department was not able to design such a route. Additionally, due to driver shortages, it became necessary to combine some routes which would normally have been only MMS or only CMS so that students from both schools were riding the same bus. There are many combinations of MMS/CMS students, some of whom are attending their current boundary school and others who are redistricted SOC or have special programming. Some students are being asked to transfer on a bus from one building to another; others may simply stay on the bus and be “shuttled” between buildings, as consecutive stops on the route. While certainly not an ideal situation, the proximity of the two middle schools and the lack of drivers dictated the need for these routing logistics.
It is our sincere hope that as additional drivers become available (and we have some currently “in training” but not yet qualified for licensure and safe transport of students), and after we fill our open routes, that we can also change the design of these transfer/shuttle routes.
Mrs. Burton is reviewing ridership %s and numbers currently to see if it would be more logical to reverse the order at which some of these buses drop off and pick up from buildings. We will advise families of any changes we make to address this.
We know that there were concerns about students being late to their first hour on the first day of school. This should not continue once we are through the first few days of route timing adjustments at the beginning of the school year. Mrs. Burton will be closely monitoring any issues with arrival times and will be addressing them. At the end of the day, students will be asked to leave their 6th hour 5 minutes early. This has been the consistent past practice with our transfer buses for specialized middle school programs. We do apologize that parents were not alerted in advance about the need to leave 6th hour early. This was a breakdown in communication and we will need to do a better job of this in the future.
Please be assured that generally students adapt quickly to the end of the day routine and that teachers are very accommodating to make sure that students have all the information they need from class.
SLCS Administration and the Transportation Department