Union R-XI Finds Faster Service, Fewer Incidents With New Bus Lines | Local News
The first year of new bus lines for the Union R-XI school district has gone without a hitch, according to the district.
In recent years, students of all grades have taken the bus at the same time, with buses stopping at elementary, middle and secondary schools. But with the opening of Prairie Dell Elementary School in the east of the city and the closure of Clark-Vitt Elementary School in the Northwest of the Union, that changed ahead of the 2020 school year- 21.
The district has shifted the start times for the 2020-21 school year to allow K-5 students to be picked up and taken to one of the three elementary schools in the district before starting classes at 7:30 a.m. . students who attend Union Middle School and Union High School and drop them off when those schools started classes an hour later.
“It was very similar to what Washington is doing with a phased departure,” said Deputy Superintendent of Union Operations Dr Mike Mabe.
Mabe, who had to deal with bus pick-up times himself as a father of a first and seventh year, said some parents were concerned about the changes before the school year, but families managed it well.
“Families have adapted,” he said. “It has been such a fluid year in transporting our students.”
And it worked for the students and the district because the students spent fewer minutes on the bus and there were fewer disciplinary issues on the buses, Mabe said.
At the June 22 education council meeting, Mabe said they “turned this thing upside down.”
“When you look at the way the transports were and the way they are and the starts staggered, we finally got to a point where my phone wasn’t ringing all the time with changes or delays or things like that,” he told the board.
The changes also meant that buses would wait for children after they left school instead of the other way around, Mabe said. “The bell rings, the children come out of the buildings and they get on the bus,” he said. “So every time they’re loaded, they can go and get back to their route faster. “
In December, the district purchased 30 new bus surveillance cameras from AngelTrax, of Dothan, Ala., For $ 80,422.94. They helped with disciplinary incidents but also with contact tracing for the coronavirus, which allowed the R-XI Union to use money from the federal elementary and secondary emergency relief fund.
All Union R-XI buses are equipped with Wi-Fi, which allows students to use their laptops on the bus and also allows Mabe to monitor any bus camera from a smartphone app. .
“I don’t have to physically request a bus tape; I can do it over Wi-Fi, ”said Mabe, who is promoted to deputy superintendent from Thursday.
The district also used assigned seating plans for buses, which helped both discipline and contact tracing, Mabe said. “These are all factors that have contributed to the best experience I have had with transportation,” he said.
Mabe said the district likely saw a drop in bus ridership both due to COVID-19 factors such as virtual learning and because some children in Prairie Dell who previously had to take the bus through town to get to school could now be driven by their parents.
The changes also allowed the Union R-XI to reduce the total number of bus lines, said Superintendent Dr Steve Weinhold.
“It will be interesting to see how this year goes,” he said.
Board Chairman Dr Virgil Weideman praised the staff for the way they handled the changes.
“Things have gone relatively well,” he said. “Anytime you have a change, there’s going to be some disruption in getting used to the new thing. … Overall, the comments I have heard are really positive.