APS – Reasons for Change in Bus Schedules for Elementary School Children Still Unclear – Bus Scheduling Logistics Remain the Same as FY13

Per an APS Transportation Department official, the number of bus routes for the upcoming year is approximately 320 as compared to approximately 317 this past year (see Note 1). Additionally, the number of bus drivers has remained essentially unchanged from last year.

In the FY14 budget, there are approximately 206 bus drivers plus an additional 73 bus drivers for special needs children for a total of 279 – which also remains essentially unchanged from last year.

In addition to the number of bus routes and number of drivers essentially remaining the same as this past year, it does not appear as has changed that would have required substantial changes to the timing of the elementary school bus routes (see background and analysis at link, link and link).

The following factors have remained constant – enrollment has stayed essentially the same; the number of schools has not changed; the bus fleet of 400+ remains in place and the scheduled start time for elementary schools has not changed. However, the start time for middle and high schools was pushed 15 minutes later to accommodate more efficient use of the buses.

Additionally, some parents have indicated that last year’s “late arrival problem” was essentially resolved by this past February and the elementary school children had more than sufficient time to get breakfast.

In substance, nothing has changed from this past year and any problems encountered were adequately resolved.

However, per the APS “talking points”,

Our new bell schedule allows for equitable, on-time arrival of all students in the district. We further believe that the change in bell schedule will promote this charge. This schedule is expected to increase breakfast participation, shorten ride times for special needs students and improve student safety.

How does this statement make sense if the late arrival problem was solved, there are no additional special needs drivers on staff and the number of bus routes only increased by 3?

There is something more at work here as the justifications given are not supported by the logistics and the facts.

Note 1 – Per the published schedules, for FY14 there are 223 elementary school routes, 148 middle school routes and 142 high school routes. However, APS counts the number of bus routes based on the number of final stops a driver makes at schools – one route can include a driver that stops at an elementary, middle and high school. Or alternatively one route can include a driver that stops at an elementary school and a middle school.

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