With all of the buzz around the changes for the next school year, we (the Savannah R3 School District) want to take a moment to address the biggest concerns we are hearing.
Why the sudden change in transportation?
The change to transportation actually began with the school start time discussions in April 2018. Altering school start times originated with a discussion of how to make the bus company more efficient, alleviate students waiting 30 minutes after school for a bus, and keeping ride times under an hour. A committee of administration, board members and parent representatives from every elementary school were invited to participate in the Transportation committee discussions. The committee was formed in August 2018. After several public meetings, the committee offered a report to the Board of Education in November 2018. Here is an excerpt from that report:
“The committee recommends the following:
- Staggering the start times of SHS and SMS.
- All elementary school times would remain the same.
- The high school will begin 10 minutes earlier with a school day from 7:35-2:48, and the middle school will start 5 minutes later with a school day from 7:50-3:05.
“…The committee also identified several factors that would improve bus transportation efficiency and save budget dollars. These changes could also cut travel time for every student. These changes include but are not limited to designating only one pick up and one drop off location per student.”
Following the approval of these Board Recommendations, the Superintendent began discussions with district administration about moving to one pick up and one drop off location per student. District administration shared with the Superintendent that there were many safety concerns at the elementary level regarding inconsistent after-school schedules. It was through these discussions that a decision was made to move forward with the transportation change for the 2019-20 school year.
I am not a stay at home parent, are you asking me to send my child home to an empty house?
No, the District Administration would never ask you to put your child in an unsafe environment. Student safety is our main concern when making decisions with student transportation. It is safest for our students to have a consistent location for pick up and a consistent location for drop off. As the parent, you are being asked to determine the safest location for your student to be consistently picked up and dropped off each day. You are welcome to have differing pick up and drop off locations (i.e. pick up at Grandma’s house, drop off at babysitter’s house) but the consistency comes into play because every day the child is picked up in the same location (i.e. Grandma’s house) and dropped off in the same location (i.e. Babysitter’s house.) Once again, the consistency keeps our students safe, which is our top priority.
I don’t work a set schedule, you can’t expect my child to be on one either.
As the parent, you are always able to make a change to your student’s schedule. If they normally ride the bus home but today Grandma wants to pick them up, that’s no problem. Just send a note with your child or be sure to contact the school before 2:00 pm to make the change. Maybe you only need bus service on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, that’s okay too. We only ask that when your child IS on the bus, they are following the one pick up and one drop off schedule.
Sometimes things come up and we have a schedule change, what then?
If you need to do something different or have an unexpected emergency, simply contact your child’s school before 2:00 pm to make other arrangements.
Why can’t I have kids ride the bus to my house for a sleepover?
Bus routes are developed with the number of students riding in mind. If a normally full bus ends up with 5 extra kids on a Friday afternoon, the capacity on that bus will be exceeded and the safety of all riders would become compromised.
It seems like there are constant changes with the bus company, are we just doing what is easiest for them?
No. The decision to move to one pick up and one drop off was a suggestion from the bus company that was brought to the attention of the Superintendent. After much discussion, it was decided that the change was in the best interest of the District as well.
It’s always something with the bus, why not just go with another company?
In November of 2018, the Board of Education sought out bids for transportation services. Two companies replied and Durham was the obvious choice. There will be changes with any company as management changes. District Administration is in constant communication with management at Durham Bus Company and we are confident that our district transportation is moving in a positive direction.
I have seen people drive right past a loading school bus, and buses loading on the wrong side of a busy street.
Transportation Services are contracted out. Meaning drivers, monitors, and other transportation employees work for the transportation company (i.e. Durham) not for the Savannah R3 School District. The district encourages anyone who sees unsafe bus practices to reach out to Durham Bus Services at 816-324-1400. If you see traffic violations please inform local law enforcement.
Still have questions or concerns?
Call us! 816-324-3144 or Durham Bus Services 816-324-1400