Yesterday, the school district issued instructions to parents and guardians of students. Whether or not their kids take the bus, they need to submit a Transportation Services form for each child who will be attending a Northborough or Southborough K-12 public school in 2020-21.
The administration is looking for information on ridership. With no one being transported to and from schools these days that’s an even bigger challenge than usual.
In part, it’s driven by work of the Start School Later Task Force. (As I previously posted, the district is looking into the possibility of restructuring the tiered busing for K-12 students.)
Even without any changes to start times planned for this fall, the schools have been working to avoid repeating bus route issues that plagued the start of the last two school years.
Earlier this year, the district formed an Transportation Advisory Working Group. The message below explains that the administration hopes this new process “will improve transportation service and make it more dependable for families.”
The deadline for submitting the form is May 29th. Parents are warned that anyone who doesn’t sign up won’t be assigned a seat on a bus.
For those who do complete the form, only those who list buses as the “primary” source of transportation will be assigned seats. Families can also sign up to use the bus only to or from school if desired.
That means, for the first time, buses hopefully won’t be routed to empty bus stops each morning and have seats reserved for students that never use them. The district can coordinate routes based on actual passenger use. (Or, at least, for stated, planned use.)
The FAQs below reassure families uncertain of their plans that they can change their status if their circumstances change.
Below is the message from Director of Operations Keith Lavoie and Transportation Coordinator Jean Pinto:
As we prepare for the 2020-2021 school year, The Public Schools of Northborough and Southborough are requiring ALL families to complete the Transportation Services Form. Without completing this form, it will limit the central office’s ability to assign your child to an optimal bus route for the 2020-2021 school year.
The reason for the requirement is to provide our administration with the actual number of students riding our buses and using other forms of transportation. During the abbreviated 2019-2020 school year, the district collected data on student ridership of our buses. The ridership numbers were low and we attribute that to many factors. In the end, we aim to improve the overall transportation service and feel the step of requiring families to register to take the bus will help in this effort.
All families will be required to complete a short Transportation Services Form for each student in their care. We expect this task will take less than five minutes to complete.
Here are some frequently asked questions:
- Are families required to complete a Transportation Services Form?
Yes, we are requiring families to complete this form for each student in their care regardless of whether they will take a bus or be driven to school.
- Why are we requiring a Transportation Services Form for every student?
We want to ensure that we account for every child. The goal is that we want families to know where their bus stop will be and when the bus is expected to pick up in the morning and drop off in the afternoon.
- What if I am not sure what our transportation needs will be?
Families may change their status at any time. We recommend that you sign up for bus transportation if you are unsure of your status. Our website will have details on how to change your status. We understand that circumstances are changing frequently. Our registration process will be flexible with your needs.
- Will this step improve our transportation service?
Yes. At the core of our busing system is the routing of every child in the towns of Northborough and Southborough. We know that our buses are not to capacity and that there are many reasons for low ridership. Our hope is that through this process we will improve transportation service and make it more dependable for families.
- What will happen if the school start time is changed?
The effort to improve our service is related to preparing for a school start time change at Algonquin Regional High School for the 2021-2022 school year. One of the deciding factors in the school start time change is how the buses will be routed to consolidate timing and a major factor in that decision is ridership. This registration process will assist us in preparing routes if school start time changes.
- If I have questions about the bus routes, who can I contact?
Please contact Jean Pinto, Transportation Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- If I have questions about the transportation system, school start time, or other related topics, who can I contact?
Please contact Keith Lavoie, Director of Operations, at email@example.com
We appreciate you taking the time to complete this form to help us improve the transportation system for our students and families. This is an important initiative for us, and we realize how challenging it is for all families to plan ahead at this time. We empathize with the strain that families have been under and are willing to be as flexible as possible.
Please complete a Transportation Services Form for each student by Friday, May 29, 2020.