Clay High School students saw several more bus routes this school year.
The school board had agreed to add about 17 more stops.
“Busing is obviously one of those challenges that over the last several years we’ve had to kind of sift through and figure out the different runs with the elimination of high school busing,” said Hal Gregory, assistant superintendent. “This year, we did add many stops for Clay High School bus students.”
The district will evaluate each of the stops for the first month to determine if enough students are using the buses, he added.
“If they’re not, then we may reduce a few or change them up,” he said.
“The big issue this year is the reconfiguration of the grades five, six, seven and eight, with kids kind of cris-crossing the district to either go to Eisenhower or Fassett schools,” he said. The district is hoping to reduce the one hour riding time for some students.
“We certainly want to reduce that as much as we can for individuals. We certainly have been experiencing some of that. One of the biggest things we had to adjust from our original plan was that a lot of fifth graders were going to be asked to walk very early in the morning to the bus stop in the dark. We added in another route to accommodate those fifth graders so we didn’t have those kids walking in the dark. Other than that, we do have a few stops where kids will have to go to one school then transfer buses and go to another school. We’re hoping, fingers crossed, that that will work. We have personnel to evaluate that in the first days. We made the adjustments in busing to make sure we knew exactly what kids get on what bus,” he said.
Superintendent Lonny Rivera said after the meeting that the district will continue to make adjustments with bus routes throughout the year.
“With the reconfiguration, our buses are traveling in more directions and actually covering a little bit more area. Until we’re actually running the buses, you don’t realize where you can save on efficiencies. Now we’re able to add more stops where it makes sense. We look at whether there are safety concerns, where we can add stops, not go over the hour threshold, and get kids into schools. Little by little, we’ve made some adjustments and tweaks. We’ve moved some programming in our district to a few other buildings, which also helped with our travel time, from building to building, so every day, it’s getting a little better and a little more efficient,” said Rivera.
The bus routes are a work in progress, he added.
“As people give us concerns, we adjust to them. We don’t want students on the bus longer than an hour. Oregon is too expansive. I grew up in Bono, and when I went to Clay, I had about an hour bus ride in the morning. We were usually the first ones on and the last ones off because we were at the very extreme edge of the district. That’s why we try to adjust our routes because we don’t want kids on the bus longer than an hour. We’d like to get it as short as possible,” said Rivera.
“We have all kinds of software that tells us how something should run. But until you actually go through the routes, and deal with traffic and other issues, it is a process,” said Rivera. “I can tell you that it’s getting much better. The complaints have been few. Where ever we can make adjustments, we do. We want to be customer service oriented. We don’t go into this business to try and upset the parents in the community. We want to make sure they know everything that we’re doing is to try and make this district better.”