SACS seeks input on bus policy change

December 13, 2017 GMT

As Steve Lake puts it, getting students home from school is akin to sorting mail: Every student has a destination.

The delivery system at Southwest Allen County Schools, however, isn’t as simple as sorting students into walkers, car riders and bus riders, the transportation director said.

Students whose bus drop-off site change throughout the week complicates the situation, leading to undesired outcomes, such as delays and mix-ups, Lake said.

That could change next school year.

Lake is seeking the community’s input about a proposed change to the bus transportation policy. The last of three public forums is tonight at Homestead High School.

The school district has advertised the possible change as a “one pick-up and one drop-off location.” Implementation of that concept varies across districts, Lake said.

“It really goes by the community,” he said.

SACS hasn’t crafted specifics for its proposal, he said, but consistency will be key.

He acknowledged some situations require flexibility with transportation, such as children splitting time between divorced parents, but the 7,300-student district has outgrown its current practice.

Accommodating drop-off changes was easier decades ago, when the district was smaller and had about a dozen buses, Lake said. Now, he said, the number of bus routes exceed 60, and more than 6,200 students are signed up to ride.

He could not quickly calculate how many students take multiple buses a week but said the inconsistency makes it difficult to plan efficient routes.

The current practice can also cause delays as school personnel try to locate children who got on the wrong bus, Lake said, and it can lead to children arriving at the wrong address : a particularly unwanted outcome during inclement weather or in rural areas.

Karen Carter, whose first- and second-graders at Aboite Elementary School ride the bus, said Lake’s justification makes sense. Parents can arrange alternate modes of transportation for their children if needed, she said.

“I was shocked in today’s day and age they were willing to do changes,” she said, noting safety concerns.

Ideally, Lake said, he would like to have a solution by the end of February so families can have time to make adjustments before implementation next year.