POTTSTOWN PA – It’s three down, one to go, as the Pottsgrove School District attempts to cope with new demands placed on its transportation system resulting from its redistricting change to educational centers, Business Administrator David Nester told the Board of School Directors on Tuesday (Sept. 25, 2012).
The district this year switched the populations at all three of its former kindergarten-through-fifth grade buildings, in a move intended to both redistribute students at overcrowded classrooms and improve academic performance. Now two schools are centers for grades K-2 only; the third for grades 3-5 only. That required more students to be bused to different locations.
And yes, Nester conceded, it created more – but not unexpected – headaches for bus schedulers.
Since schools opened Aug. 27 for the new academic year, he said, the district and its busing contractor, CMD Transportation of Pottstown, have worked to eliminate “hot button issues” that include problems with bus stop locations, pick-up and drop-off times, bus seat crowding, and the length of bus runs.
Of those, only bus route length remains unsolved. That’s being worked on this week, Nester said. Otherwise, he added, “we’re fairly happy with the progress we’ve made in a short period of time.”
- Bus stops. There were relatively few parental complaints, about the same number received every year, on where students were being picked up on a bus route. For various reasons, Nester said, parents preferred a stop different than one initially assigned. Almost all were satisfied, he said.
- Pick-ups and drop-offs. Despite sophisticated scheduling software, the district didn’t anticipate the increased amount of time it took to get buses loaded for afternoon rides home. In some cases, slow exits added up to 10 minutes to some routes, Nester said. Administrative monitoring during the first two weeks of school helped streamline the process.
- Bus seat crowding. On two specific runs, routes 27 and 39 serving Lower Pottsgrove and Ringing Rocks elementary schools, several seats were occupied by three children rather than two. “We identified the pressure points,” Nester said, one of them being a dramatic increase in students loading from a day care center, and subsequently “made changes to seven routes to accommodate the two.” That worked, and was implemented Sept. 17.
Now the district is turning to another set of experts, its bus drivers, to tackle route lengths.
“We’ve got only so many buses, and only so many runs we can make, so we’ve got to maximize the utilization of the fleet,” Nester explained. Because drivers know their routes best, they’re being asked to keep a detail record this week of the times they reach and leave each stop, and to make recommendations on potential changes to make routes more effective. Nester hopes they can be implemented next Wednesday (Oct. 3).
Related (to the Pottsgrove Board of School Directors’ Sept. 25 meeting):
- Three Down, One To Go In Pottsgrove Busing Issues
- Acting Superintendent Taps Experience From FL, OH, PA
- Pottsgrove Names Shellie Feola As Acting Superintendent
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