By John Cohen, District Communications Director
In the State of Washington budget, a stipulation has been established concerning student transportation in school districts. In this initiative, all districts are required to review added cost savings and efficiencies for their student transportation systems. Based on Board policy, a committee of citizens and school personnel has been formed to review the areas around each school and identify “safe walking routes.” Beginning in April, 2011, the committee for Steilacoom Historical School District #1 met on multiple occasions to examine district bus routes and student pick-up points along them as well as safe walking routes.
The committee’s recommendations included retaining bus stops within a one mile distance from schools if walking was determined by the committee as unsafe. For students residing within one mile of their school where walk routes are safe, students and families will need to self-transport. Clearly identified safe walking routes for students living within one mile of their schools will be provided to affected families via mail later in the summer. To accommodate walkers, the district plans to use staff as crossing guards to assist students safely cross some busy streets.
With the beginning of the 2011 – 2012 school year, the committee recommended assigning students to specific buses and bus stops for travel to and from schools. With a designated stop for each student, bus drivers will better know their riders, provide better safety for their riders and be better able to predict bus loads. Assigned buses and bus stops will also allow the district to enhance its tracking of students in case of emergency. Information on stops assigned to specific students will be sent to parents later in the summer via mail.
Students who need to occasionally ride a different bus will need to bring a note to school advising the change. A request to change stops, on a permanent basis, from the one assigned by the district will require a request sent to the district’s transportation safety committee.
Savings from greater transportation efficiencies will be used to make the system cost neutral, enhancing the ability to use limited local and state resources for staffing, purchase of supplementary materials and providing for other student needs.
Start times for district schools will remain the same for the 2011 – 2012 school year.