Saturday, August 29, 2009

Bus Scheduling (Sigh)

A few weeks ago, wanting to get ahead of the curve and hoping to have some input, I called the AAPS transportation office to find out what bus options there would be in my neighborhood. I was hoping that as the number of kids at Skyline expands, the busing options would improve. I, at least, want to encourage the public school bussing option, but I don't like to have my kids walking nearly a mile in the morning dark in order to get on a bus--which meant, of course, that I drove my daughter to the bus stop last year.
So imagine my dismay when I was told on the phone that not only hadn't the options expanded, the bus that stopped last year 3/4 of a mile from my house was no longer operational.
The guy answering the phone suggested that maybe nobody had used that bus at the end of the year.
Not true--there were about 12 kids there on most days.
I was upset.
I left a message for the route supervisor. [Whom, it should be mentioned here, never called me back.]
I also emailed some of my friends in the neighborhood about this. One of them called Todd Robert's office (the superintendent), and spoke with his secretary. She was following my grandfather's adage, "Don't waste your time. I always go straight to the top."

[In case you need it, the Superintendent's Office number is in the phone book. And it is: 994-2230.]

A few hours later, my friend gets a call back--the person I had spoken to had, in fact, given me the "wrong" information--there was a bus that went to the old spots, and a few other spots too (which are, in fact, closer to my house). You might have thought that "all's well that ends well."

Except for a few things. (Of course there is more.)
When the Back-to-School Bus Schedules came, the promised route was...ABSENT. This prompted a whole 'nother round of phone calls among our friends. What did this mean???
At Skyline registration, the route in question was indeed posted. [Although I didn't go to registration--if my child hadn't asked the right question, would we know the answer?]
Obviously, they had to print the schedules earlier, so I still don't know: did they add this route under our questioning? Or was its omission an editing mistake that they couldn't rectify in time? And if the route was there all the time, then why was the person answering the phone using the (clearly incorrect) printed bus schedule--at least the AAPS transportation department should have access to the correct schedule.

One more thing: twice last year, for good reasons, my daughter's morning bus schedule had major changes in time and location. But did they give us more than a day's notice? NO! Did they change the posted information on the AAPS Web Site? NO! And really, there is no good reason for that. Families deserve at least a few days notice. The web site should be updated.

A few days after the first set of events, one of the other parents whose child rides the bus calls me to find out if there was an update. I told her what had happened. "Typical of the school district," she says (and she works for the district). "And the confusion is all so unnecessary."

Lessons learned about the bussing:
Call early about the schedule
Read the schedule. Re-read the schedule. If you don't see what you need, be persistent and ask for what you deserve.
If you don't like the answers, go up the chain of command. The squeaky wheel does get the grease--at least sometimes. I don't think most of us are asking for all that much.
Oh--and--give the bus drivers a break, especially the first couple of weeks of the year...


  1. Typo in Superintendent's phone number. It is 994-2230

  2. my child said on the second day of school that the bus driver told them he would be coming ten minutes earlier than printed in the book cuz kids were waiting earlier on the first day (it was changed last year cuz of delays in getting to school due to parents). No official information was conveyed---imagine expecting a kindergarten child responsible for getting that info to parents. 10 minutes is a lot of time. my child told me today that the bus driver told them that they have about 5 kids too many on the bus and some are practically standing in the aisle. anyone know the maximum allowed on elementary buses?

  3. I think the rule is that every child needs to have a seat. But the first few days of school, they don't know how many kids will get on at each stop. Which means there may be some overflow, and that leads to bus schedule changes. And absolutely, they should be:
    a) posting changes, DAILY, on the transportation web page (just like they update for snow days) and
    b) sending paper copies of information home for kids.