UPDATE: The presentation to the Board and the proposed Transportation Service Standards for 2011-2012 are now posted on the Transportation web site.
The Transportation Plan for 2011-2012 was introduced to the Board at their regular legislative meeting of January 19, 2011. It is scheduled for a vote two weeks later on February 2, 2011.
There has been absolutely no community engagement on the plan.
It was first unveiled to the public at the Board meeting, at about 10:30pm when there was almost no one left in the room. The presentation to the Board can be found in the Board agenda.
The transportation for high schools remains unchanged. Students living outside the walk zone (2.5 mile radius) for their assigned high school will be issued ORCA cards. Yellow bus transportation will be provided only as an exception for Special Education students and in situations in which the METRO service is acknowledged to be inadequate. See the Transportation Service Standards for details.
The transportation for middle schools remains unchanged. Students living outside the walk zone (2.0 mile radius) for their assigned high school will be issued ORCA cards. Yellow bus transportation will be provided only as an exception for Special Education students and in situations in which the METRO service is acknowledged to be inadequate. See the Transportation Service Standards for details.
There will be big changes for attendance area elementary and K-8 schools.
There is no description of these proposed changes anywhere on the Transportation web site - despite Mr. Bishop's promise to put the information there. The proposed Transportation Service Standards for 2011-2012 can be found attached to the Board Action Report.
Let's remember that Mr. Bishop is the one who promised a report on Transportation two years ago and never delivered and also promised a Transportation Task Force that was never formed.
Here is the short, ugly truth: students assigned to attendance area elementary and K-8 schools will be eligible for yellow bus transportation if they live within 1.25 miles of their school and within the school's service area (the Transportation Zone). Students living within the walk boundary, an area immediately around the school which has not yet been defined, will not be eligible for transportation. The Transportation Zone will look like a doughnut which will have an outside edge 1.25 miles from the school (less if the service area boundary is closer) and a hole in the middle for the walk boundary.
Transportation from a wider area will be made available for students enrolled in special programs such as ELL, EBOC, Special Education, APP and Spectrum. The stops for the routes to serve students living outside the Transportation Zone for their school will located at schools.
Other students enrolled at the school who live outside the Transportation Zone can catch a ride on a bus serving students in those special programs on a space available basis. Otherwise they will not be provided with transportation.
So, students living close to the school who did not used to get transportation will get it next year. And students living far away from the school (but in the service area) who used to get transportation will not get transportation next year. All of the years when your child could get yellow bus transportation to any school in the cluster (then service area) are over. The deal now is that transportation is only available to nearby schools.
Since the buses are driving such short routes they need much less time to drive them - the longest bus rides will be 25 minutes instead of an hour. This means that instead of driving two routes each morning and afternoon, the buses can drive three routes each morning and afternoon. So the bus arrival and departure times will be:
1 - Middle & High Schools: 7:30 – 2:35 (7 hrs, 5 mins)
--65 minute gap in the morning--25 minute gap in the afternoon--
2 - Elementary and K-8 Schools: 8:35 – 3:00 (6 hrs, 25 mins)
--35 minute gap in the morning--45 minute gap in the afternoon--
3 - Elementary and K-8 Schools: 9:10 – 3:45 (6 hrs, 35 mins)
You might wonder why the teenagers - who need to sleep in (according to research) have to go to school first instead of last. Keep wondering. The explanation was that if the start time for high schools and middle schools were delayed, then the end time would be delayed and that would interfere with after-school activities.
If you wish to make a comment on this plan, the Transportation Department has established an email inbox at firstname.lastname@example.org. In addition, they will host a community meeting (just the one, so don't miss it) on January 27th at Aki Kurose Middle School from 7:00 – 8:30pm.
This level of community engagement was regarded as perfectly acceptable by the Board. Not one Board member complained about the community engagement. The Transportation Department characterized this as "Early Communication of New Transportation Plan".
After the vote, the Transportation Department says that they will send mailings to the families who will be cut off. I'm not sure if that is part of the package of "early" communication to families.