The start of school on August 10 will see 40 Allen County School buses return to the roads of Allen County. As the bus drivers start a journey of almost 450,000 miles, Allen County Schools Director of Transportation Wendell Spears explains that a few changes in procedure and routes have been made.
“We are starting a new procedure for the drop off of children when no parent is at home,” Spears explained. “This will apply to children from the Allen County Primary Center, children from any school where the parent or guardian has requested the bus driver not drop the child off unless a parent or guardian is at home, and in a situation where, at the bus driver’s discretion, they do not feel comfortable dropping off the child.”
If a bus drive finds no one at home---a requirement in every case for children in preschool through the third grade----the driver will have a new procedure to follow. If the bus returns to the bus compound in Scottsville and passes back by the home on the trip back to town, the driver will make a second attempt to drop off the child. If no one is still at home, the driver will bring the child back to school. If the bus does not pass back by the residence, the driver will bring the child back to the school on their return to the compound. School officials will hold the child until the parent/guardian arrives.
For drivers who do not return the bus to the compound at night, a designated rendezvous point and time can be arranged---arraignment made after the school makes contact with the parent’s child or guardian. If the parent/guardian is available at the rendezvous point, the child is released to their parent or guardian. If the parent/guardian is not at the designated point at the designated time, the driver will return the child to the school where the child will remain until the parent or guardian arrives at the school.
Spears points out that parents and guardians should make every effort to be at home to receive the child. In addition, Spears asks that parents attempt to keep their child on a consistent schedule each day.
“Consistency is the key,” Spears noted. “We have had parents call in on Wednesday needing a child to ride a different bus the rest of the week. The bus driver gets that note. But on Thursday, the parent calls back and requests the child do something different. So Thursday afternoon, you have a bus driver looking for that child since they (the bus driver) have a note. Kids can ride different buses but this back-and-to is not good. The child needs consistency too. Parents need a schedule that is consistent if at all possible.”
The school district attempts to be as consistent as possible not only for afternoon drop-offs but morning pickups as buses are normally within a minute of their pickup time each morning. Spears asks parents to make sure their child is at the bus stop on time each day.
“The main thing for all parents in the morning is to have their child at the bus stop five minutes before the bus arrives,” Spears explained. “We may be a little off of our regular times on the first few days of school but by the end of the first full week we will be down to within a minute as to the time we make a stop. We also encourage parents with small children, especially with community bus stops, to bring the child and stay with them if at all possible until the bus arrives.”
This year, a few changes in bus routes have been made. Bus number 29 has been replaced by bus number 73. Bus number 66 will began its route at Ranger Bob’s instead of Cedar Cross Church. In the city, bus number 24 will not run North Fourth Street but will run East Maple Street. Bus number 25 will be the new bus on North Fourth Street. Bus number 26 will not run East Maple Street. Due to the changes, times may be a little different than last year.
Spears added that children preparing to get on the bus each morning should be focused on boarding the bus and not distracted by other children or electronic devices.
“If a child has to cross the road to board the bus, make sure the child knows to make eye contact and wait for a signal from the driver to cross the road,” Spears added.
Motorists are advised to be attentive as the buses return to the streets and never pass a bus when the bus is unloading or loading children---not just on highways but in all parking lots as well.
“We still have a lot of stop-arm violations,” Spears said. “It’s just distractive driving. Very, very seldom does someone pass a bus intentionally; they just do not see that the bus is stopped. That is scary that they don’t see the stop arm and those red lights flashing.”
Motorists should make a “mental note” that buses will be back on the roads. Spears adds that Allen County buses run routes from approximately 6 a.m. until 7:30 a.m. during the morning and from 3 p.m. until 4:30 p.m. in the afternoon, Monday through Friday every day that school is in session.
All students in the system receive a yellow handout outlining the district’s rules and regulation regarding transportation. The packet is to be reviewed, signed, and returned to school.
“The rules are simple but they must be followed,” Spears added. “We urge parents to read over the rules with their child. Remind them that the bus is an extension of the classroom.”
The handout also contains safety tips including reminders about backpacks and drawstrings.
“We ask parents to remember to get a backpack apportioned to their child’s height,” Spears added. “If they have a little child, don’t buy a huge backpack. Also, we always remind parents about drawstrings on backpacks and coats---make sure they are secure and cannot catch on bus doors.”
Buses began arriving on the school campus around 7 each morning to start the unloading process. In the afternoon, the schools will dismiss and load buses the same way as when the school year ended in May. Students first load at the James E. Bazzell Middle School, then the Allen County-Scottsville High School, followed by the Allen County Intermediate Center with the Allen County Primary Center being the last location to load.
Officers with the Scottsville Police Department and the School Resources Officers for Allen County Schools will be stationed on the New Gallatin Road to direct drop-off traffic in the mornings and pick-up traffic in the afternoon. The school zones have a 25 mph speed limit---with flashing warning lights---during the posted time frame. The drop-off and pick-up traffic patterns remain the same for all schools.
Parents with any questions about the transportation polices of the Allen County School District can contact Spears at the Allen County Board of Education.
“Parents also need to contact the school or district if they have moved this summer,” Spears added. “We need updated locations and phone numbers.”