Administration at Wolf Creek Public Schools (WCPS) will be making a change to the way they deal with busing students to help parents with their child care options.
Trustees were accepting of the proposed change to the bus transportation administrative procedure (AP) during their meeting Oct. 6 that would allow students to be picked up and dropped off at different points on their current bus route, following a recommendation from staff who were responding to an increase in the number of requests made so far this school year.
John Blood, WCPS transportation manager, explained to trustees that they have been “inundated” with alternative drop off requests this year and that there has been plenty of negative feedback received about the current policy. Under AP 550, students are bused to and from their home to their designated school unless a special application is approved for a different location, which doesn’t allow for the pick up or drop off points to alternate.
That’s where the change comes in with parents, the key being that the other location would be along the same route the student currently takes.
Blood stated the bus drivers are extremely supportive of the change.
“The majority of the requests are for kids to be picked up at home then dropped off elsewhere, be it a relative or a babysitter. I spoke with the bus drivers and asked if they had any concerns or problems if we went through with the change, the resounding response was ‘no,’” he told trustees.
“When asked what the role the division office should have in this, the drivers said they need to butt out.”
He added the drivers also figured that getting notes or talking to the parents face to face or even having a weekly schedule of drop offs on board made great sense.
“The change would be good for parents and allow them flexibility in their child care options since we are moving toward a more blended family environment,” stated Blood.
The only trouble he sees is how can they track the students and how many alternative drop offs would be allowable on a specific route, considering the need to stay on schedule. Blood did suggest that establishing some clear guidelines would definitely help alleviate those concerns.
WCPS secretary-treasurer Joe Henderson explained the reasoning behind only doing it on the same route is because some routes are presently full, which leaves limitations on placing students on a bus, as well as having students taking separate buses constantly would be extremely difficult to track.
Superintendent Jayson Lovell stated the division wants to accommodate parents in a reasonable and fair manner, although they can only go so far.
“What everyone needs to understand is we can not create any undue hardship. For Wolf Creek, that means not creating other issues or increasing the liability,” Lovell explained.
Trustees Bob Huff and Donna Peterson were pleased with the suggested change as it fits well with the policies in place about welcoming, safe and caring schools.
“There will be challenges to work around, but this will help our parents,” said Peterson.
Administration will now move quickly to communicate the changes to parents and bus drivers.
WCPS is still dealing with a severe lack of spare bus drivers, to the point where they have had to cancel field trips and deny certain requests.
Trustees were told by Blood that nine will soon have completed their bus driver training, though the shortage will still be there and the department is continuing its search for more.
He added at one point it was so bad that administration had a very tough time moving schedules and drivers around to cover a regular route because a driver wasn’t able to work due to a health issue.
Anyone wishing to look at being a bus driver are asked to contact the WCPS transportation department at (403) 785-0726.