Transportation critical element in keeping things running smoothly
For many of our students, bus drivers are the first and last school employees they see each day, and here in the Sherwood School District we are fortunate to have a dedicated group of drivers who really care about the children they transport.
While the primary objective of our transportation department — safely transporting students to and from school each day — remains constant, the resources used and the tasks completed by this department are always evolving, and these staff are committed to continuously improving transportation services for the students and families of the Sherwood community.
This start of the school year has been particularly busy for our transportation department, as we welcomed back our full roster of bus riders every school day.
Last year, we began tending to changes in bus routes following changes to the elementary school boundary map and a later start time at our secondary schools, though while making those changes we had a smaller number of student bus riders due to the impact of the hybrid schedule used when our schools first reopened.
This year, not only are our schools back to full-time, in-person learning everyday, but we are also seeing an increase in ridership at the middle school and high school levels (compared to pre-pandemic times).
This increase in students utilizing our buses required another round of adjustments to bus routes and schedules to get students to school at the appropriate time.
We continue to evaluate this aspect of transportation and will likely make adjustments throughout the school year, in an effort to continue improving the effectiveness and efficiency of our bus routes. One of the biggest changes implemented by the Transportation Department in the last few years has been adding GPS systems to our buses, as well as the addition of a new routing system.
This allows dispatch staff members to better support our drivers as they navigate their trips. Additionally, these systems allow us to provide timely information to parents about their students' bus routes through the Ride360 mobile app.
Ride360 gives parents the ability to see on a map where their children's bus is in real time. In the event of a route delay due to traffic or bus malfunction, the Transportation Department can communicate directly with the parents of affected students. We now have 962 families registered on the mobile app, which represents approximately 75% of our families that regularly utilize district bus transportation.
For more information on the Ride360 mobile app, please visit the Sherwood School District website.
In addition to our buses having GPS equipment, all new school buses have increased visibility by way of LED lighting, as well as lighted information boards that alert drivers when the bus is approaching either a student stop or railroad.
To improve fire safety, all new buses are equipped with a fire suppression system in the engine and battery compartments. Additionally, in the past five years we have converted nearly half of our bus fleet to use propane fuel instead of diesel, resulting in an 80% reduction in hydrocarbon emissions. Our team of staff and mechanics work hard to ensure the best riding experience for our students, on buses that are safe, efficient, and well-maintained.
Another area of focus for our Transportation Department staff are the procedures used in keeping our buses safe and clean during this pandemic. We continue to space students out to the greatest extent possible on the buses, while utilizing assigned seating or cohorting to "zones" on the buses to assist in the ability to respond quickly to any contact tracing needs. In addition, our drivers have a supply of disposable masks on board for any students in need.
Finally, touch surfaces are wiped down with disinfectant wipes between routes, and all buses are thoroughly sprayed with a disinfectant once a day.
When determining a student's eligibility for bus transportation, many questions arise regarding busing and walk-zone regulations. The State of Oregon, under ORS 327.043, requires busing for students who live further than a mile from elementary schools and one and one-half miles for middle school and high school students.
Students who live within those distances are considered as living in the "walk zone" for their school location. In some cases where a hazard exists, like a railroad track or highway, an exception for busing may be provided; however these exceptions must be submitted and approved by the State School Board.
The SSD Transportation Department is currently recruiting for additional bus drivers — if you enjoy working with children, this is a great opportunity to join our team! The district provides paid training, paid leave, prorated insurance based on hours worked, a hiring bonus, and a positive work environment. For application information, please visit our website at www.sherwood.k12.or.us and look for the "Jobs" tab at the top of the screen.
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