What is the reason for the change?
Despite a considerable effort to attract more bus drivers, we do not have enough drivers to accommodate our previous schedule. As a result, this new staggered schedule will ensure we can transport all of our students.
What are some of the steps taken before coming to this decision?
- Back in January, it became clear that to transport students when we return to a five-day-a-week in-person-learning model, we needed more bus drivers.
- District leadership began meeting and planning to identify ways to attract new drivers, while simultaneously discussing ways to transport our students if we could not fill our open positions.
- Worked with a consultant to exhaust all transportation possibilities for the Fall.
- Spoke with private transportation contractors to explore possible options.
- To assist the community we met with local daycares to share the possible need for before and after school childcare.
Some of the steps that we took during the planning process were:
- Four discovery and strategy meetings in January
- March Kindergarten transportation meeting
- Two April meetings, including meeting with Twin Transit
- A July planning meeting
- Weekly District Office Admin meetings
- Monthly Building Admin meetings
- CEA leadership meetings
- March, April, May, June, July, and August transportation communication at School Board meetings
- Dr. Moloney regularly met with superintendents across multiple counties in a collaborative effort to share information and problem-solve together.
In addition to our planning and strategy meetings, we took extra care to address ways to be more competitive and attractive to candidates. Some of the steps we took to do so were:
- Launched an employment campaign across email, social media, newspaper publications (including the Chronicle), local signage, and participated in radio broadcasts.
- Reimagining the positions which are typically part-time to include a bus driver/custodial hybrid position for those candidates interested in a full-time position.
- For the first time, offering paid training for drivers.
Studies show that secondary students perform better in school with later start times; why didn’t the district decide to pick up elementary students first and end with secondary?
Despite the research, there were many reasons that, after consideration, we decided on the new schedule. Some of these reasons include:
- Limiting the amount of time an elementary student would wait for the bus in the dark for pick up.
- Some families rely on an older sibling being home when a younger sibling gets dropped off at home.
- Secondary athletes would not miss several hours of instructional time a week for athletic events.
- Create as little change as possible to easily switch back to the original bell schedule when we get enough bus drivers.
- This allows secondary students to continue to have time to have an afterschool job to support themselves and their families (especially with the adverse economic effects of the pandemic on local family incomes.)
- The need for substitutes and teacher coverage in the afternoons due to athletic events would be less. (We also have a substitute teacher shortage.)
- We are part of a co-op and need to coordinate with Centralia’s three-tiered bussing routes and three different bell schedules.
- The number of work hours per day does not change for staff.
What happens when we get enough bus drivers to cover all of our routes?
- We will work with the transportation department and other district staff to figure out a potential timeline to be able to switch back to the previous one-tiered transportation bell schedule.
- We will be considerate of providing time for parents to adjust their child care.
- Our earliest consideration for this switch would be at semester break if we have enough bus drivers.
Extra-curricular and Athletic Transportation
- Bus drivers are still in short supply
- We have reached out to other districts to ask for assistance for athletic and extra-curricular trips for this school year-none is forthcoming right now
- Posted a position for a trip driver-no applicants at this time
- Parents are able to provide transportation for student-athletes with paperwork
Health and Safety Improvements
To maximize the health and safety of our students and drivers, using Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Funds (ESSER) purchased:
- New air purifiers
- New GPS Systems
- New Camera Systems