EDUCATION BLACKBOARD

SCHOOL BEAT

New school year brings bussing changes

by JACQUIE FASE
Director of Transportation
Rockford Public Schools

It’s been quite a busy summer down at the bus garage. I was given the challenge to think “outside the bus” to contain rising costs and to keep our level of service acceptable. As a perpetual positive thinker, I did not back down from the challenge. Change is inevitable if we want to succeed. I learned that fact years ago as a seamstress. Each bride who contracted a custom gown had her own idea; I had to make changes to fit the dream, but the end result was always the same:  Provide a service, stay within the budget and keep the customer happy.

Faith Baldwin said, “Time is a dressmaker specializing in alterations.”

As time goes on and expectations change, so must we:

  • With the Early Childhood Center now at Meadow Ridge, we will be providing shuttles to all the developmental kindergarten (DK) students. The shuttle buses will come from each elementary school and back again in the afternoon. We will be providing color-coded tags for each group of students to help save confusion. These tags will correspond to the bus they ride.
  • The ECSE students will have their own routes. It is our goal to keep as much consistency as possible for these tiny tots. They, too, will have their own color-coded tag.
  • There will be additional shuttles for students attending special education programs within our district as we mainstream these students onto general education transportation.
  • We will also be bringing back midday kindergarten routes every Friday.

With all these additional transportation expectations, we quickly came to realize that there is limited time to complete these routes. To make all of these changes work with in the time frame allowed, we will be requiring many secondary (6-12) students to walk to a common bus stop. This will allow our many routes to remain on time throughout their morning schedule.

Woodrow Wilson said, “If you want to make enemies, try to change something.”

I understand that many parents will have concerns about common bus stops. It is certainly not our goal to upset the apple cart. However, if we can work together, we can continue to serve all students at every level.

We have studied traffic flow and safety concerns, we have enlisted the help of the KCSD to determine legal stops, and we are following state requirements and recommendations. One of those recommendations is to eliminate the backing of a school bus. With that, we will no longer be entering streets where the bus is required to back up to turn around. Your students may be required to walk out to the main entrance.

Bertold Brecht said, “Because things are the way they are, things will not stay the way they are.”

This change will also assist us in fuel conservation. A school bus will average eight miles per gallon.

Another change you may notice is the implementation of hazard light stops. When the bus can be fully off the roadway and students do NOT cross the street for a bus stop, the bus will only use the yellow hazard lights. This will allow the traffic to continue to flow and help to eliminate the numerous rear-end crashes that occur yearly. Don’t forget:

  • Red or yellow up on top, you must STOP.
  • Yellow down low, allows traffic to flow.

As we continue to achieve efficient and effective student transportation, we look to you, the parents of our precious cargo, for support and understanding. A school bus can be a chaotic plethora of personalities. It requires a bus driver to be strong and gentle, understanding yet firm. It’s a part-time job with a full-time commitment. The winds of change blow in on a yearly basis, requiring us to be flexible and grateful that we are able to serve.

A Japanese proverb states, “The bamboo that bends is stronger than the oak that resists.”

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