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Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Transportation

District Transportation - what are the issues? What does the new SAP mean to it?

13 comments:

Dorothy Neville said...

What happened to that Task Force we were promised?

seattle citizen said...

How much does it cost in the new SAP, per school, how much did it cost before?

Is it worth it?

TechyMom said...

Is transportation grandfathered for students who are grandfathered to stay at their current school? I can think of several cases, and I want to know if it's covered in each.

1) Elemenatary student outside attendance area, but in service area. I think in this case the student gets transportation, right?

2) Elementary student outside attendance area, outside new service area, but in the old cluster for their school. Service Areas don't line up exactly with old clusters. Also, some schools moved to a new cluster (Muir was not in Central but is in Washinton). This child is in-cluster and getting transportation this year, but will they next year?

3) Students at alternative (or other option) schools whose draw area has been reduced. Will there still be bussing from Central to Orca during the transition period? From SE and Queen Anne to TOPS?

4) Middle school students whose address moved from one school's reference area to another school's service area. For example, middle school students who live near Muir but are attending Mercer, not Washington.

5) Students who are currently getting integration-positive bussing. (Or did that end this year?)

6) High School students outside the new attendance area for the school. Will they get bus passes? I think the answer to this is yes.

dj said...

Techymom, let me add:

7) Students who moved as of right under NCLB.

Charlie Mas said...

First, we were promised - again - this year - as we have been promised in previous years - a rational and well-considered transportation plan. Every year the transportation plan comes to the Board in a rush. Every year everyone acknowledges that it is ill-considered, inefficient, and sub-optimal. Every year the Board is pressured by a deadline to pass it anyway. Every year the staff promises - so sincerely and convincingly - that they will get to work earlier and produce a well-considered, efficient and optimized plan next year. The annual melodrama was played out this spring and it will soon be due for its annual revival.

Experienced Board members (or anyone with a functional memory) should know to put it on the agenda for the Operations Committee starting in October and monitor it monthly until it comes before the Board in February. They did not. They will not.

Second, a good part of the fundamental justification for the new student assignment plan is transportation savings. So we better see it.

Speaking of savings, are we seeing the $2 million in savings and 49 bus reduction that we were promised for this year?

Third, consider the role that program placement has on transportation costs.

Fourth, are all of the old transportation exceptions going away? Will the District no longer provide transportation for integration-positive school choices? Will the District no longer provide transportation for SE middle school students to McClure and Hamilton?

Middle school is where choice has been reduced the most. Students still have transportation (and therefore access) to as many elementary schools and high schools as before, but everyone has transportation (and therefore access) to only one attendance area high school and only one "option" middle school. Some - but certainly not all - also have transportation (and therefore access) to a K-8 as well. Only at the middle school level do we see transportation as a tighter constraint on choice than under the old plan.

Josh Hayes said...

Yes, TechyMom, as a parent of kids in an alternative -- err, I mean, "option" -- school, I'm very worried about reductions in transportation.

Currently at AS1 we get transportation from the NE and N clusters (not NW, which bugs me, but there you go). According to the "find your school" tool at SPS, my "local" option school is Salmon Bay, which is a cool 3.4 miles from my house, according to Google maps. Our current school is AS1, a mere 1.5 miles. But because SB is our "official" school, does that mean we'll get no transportation next year? Who knows?

(Leaving aside the absurdity of having my neighborhood option school be one where we have exactly zero chance of being allowed to enroll next year. Hmph!)

Central Mom said...

While we're asking the board these questions, let's also ask them why the District allows this department to post minimal, and I do mean minimal, information out of its dept. on the SPS website. No info about budgets. No info about cost savings. No info about routes or route updates. No surveys. Just some FAQs updated once a year, I'd guess.

Is it that they don't want transparency into their operations, or is it that they're not staffed to do so, or is it that they're incapable of doing so. Whatever the case, it needs a fix.

ArchStanton said...

Is it that they don't want transparency into their operations, or is it that they're not staffed to do so, or is it that they're incapable of doing so.

My guess is that it's a combination of all three. Likewise for their poor communications with parents.

(Or, they simply don't want you to see the pot-smoking college interns creating your child's route by throwing darts at a map of Seattle)

Sahila said...

Pot-smoking interns.... laughs out loud - not as unlikely as you might think.... I know for a fact that SPS has had pot-smoking school bus drivers hauling kids around the city streets...

I know two people who were such pot-smoking drivers for many years - one I think still employed as a school bus driver - who thought me puritanical for being horrified and outraged at their practice ... they stated - in all sincerity I think - that the pot-smoking drivers had the best safety record of all bus drivers....

Are drivers drug-tested now, I wonder? I dont think the second person I know (who possibly is still a driver) has given up smoking pot....

StepJ said...

Techymom,

In response to your questions...

1. Yes, provided the student lives outside of the walk zone of the school they attend and within the same service area.

2. This will be determined (Transportation Grandfathering - and to what extent) as a part of the Transition Plan. The first draft of the Transition Plan will be presented to the Board at a workshop on Dec. 16. It will be Introduced to the Board at the regular meeting on Jan. 7, and final vote at the regular meeting on Jan. 21.

3. See answer to question 2. The exception is yellow bus transport for middle and elementary school outside of the your resident service area if you are attending a "linked" Option School. If a service area does not have an Option School a "linked" Option School in an adjacent Service Area has been designated.

4. Yes, Middle School transport outside of the resident Service Area with a Metro bus pass.

5. Have not seen mention of this - don't know.

6. Yes, Metro bus passes.

StepJ said...

UW employees - what do you think?

This is just an idea toss and would like to know if there would be any interest from employee's of UW.

There seem to be a good number of UW employees that reside in the NE and North Central areas. Many schools in these areas are predicted to remain overcapacity for years to come.

If there was yellow bus, or some sort of shuttle service that would pick-up your kids at designated locations on the UW campus and then transport them to a school predicted to be underenrolled - such as Laurelhurst - where you would not normally qualify for transport from the District - would you be interested? Would it be an option you would consider?

Unknown said...

Following up on the yellow bus shuttle idea, this is being kicked around for areas not well-served by the Metro system. A good NW example would be the North Beach kids going to Ingraham.

I think there are a lot of pluses to the program over Metro, since you have a direct line from some District-owned property on a District-controlled bus to the high school. I would expect that this would help with discipline problems, including the recent case of the girl pulled off a Metro bus in Ballard for not wanting to be in a gang.

As I understand it, the present proposal only covers areas not well-served by Metro. However, on shorter routes, it's even better, because one bus and driver can probably support two trips to the school in the morning or afternoon, halving your cost per student trip. Cost is king, right?

Potential downsides are serving kids in after-school programs with transportation, difficulty in scheduling and setting up the system, and probably some others I haven't thought of.

Maureen said...

Does anyone know if the Laurelhurst students who get yellow buses to RHS once a day (a.m. or p.m.?) get their Metro passes paid for as well?

And do you know which schools are using 'community stop' buses this year? Sherry Carr says her daughter has one for Eckstein and I have heard indirectly that Lowell has some.... Are people happy with them?