Seattle Public Schools (SPS) is proposing changes to its Transportation Plan for the 2011-12 school year, and the community is invited to learn more and provide feedback during an upcoming series of information meetings.
The meeting closest to our area will be on Thursday, Feb. 3, 2011 from 6:30-8 p.m. at Hamilton International Middle School (1610 N 41st St).
There will also be meetings tomorrow (Thursday, Jan. 27), 7-8:30 p.m., at Aki Kurose Middle School (3928 S Graham St) and Wednesday, Feb. 8, from 6:30-8 p.m. at Chief Sealth International High School (2600 SW Thistle).
“Given the state budget shortfall and severe budget gap facing the district for the 2011-2012 school year,” an SPS news release explains, “Seattle Public Schools is looking for ways to cut costs to minimize impact on the classroom. The proposed Transportation Plan changes would save the district $4 million (the equivalent of 45 teaching positions) by creating new Transportation Zones that would streamline bus routes for attendance area elementary and K-8 schools.”
The proposed changes would decrease the bus ride time for attendance area schools to 25 minutes or less. As routes will be shorter, buses are less likely to encounter the traffic delays that occur on longer routes, so families will find departure and arrival times to be more reliable, according to SPS. The plan also benefits the environment by taking about 80 buses off the roads and reducing the district’s carbon footprint.
Children within the transportation zone and outside of walk zones would be eligible for district-provided transportation. Transportation Zones would include the entire attendance area of a school, extending to areas within a 1.25-mile radius from the school and within the middle school service area. Existing walk zones to schools would still apply.
Bus transportation for middle schools, high schools, option schools, English Language Learners, Special Education and Advanced Learning would have minimal changes.
In addition to the new zones, some schools’ bell times would change, with some high schools and middle schools starting 10 minutes earlier and elementary schools starting five minutes later.
As a result of the plan, some elementary and K-8 students currently receiving transportation this year might not get transportation next year. District leaders are working to provide the following intermediary bus options for impacted students for the next two years, 2011-13:
- Students who live within a half of a mile from the Transportation Zone boundary could walk to a bus stop within the zone. Seats will be allocated on a space available basis.
- A shuttle system would be created so students can catch a bus at one school and take it to another.
The press release indicates that the district started loading maps today (Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2011) so that families can see proposed intermediary transportation options based on student address, with completion by this Saturday.
The School Board is scheduled to vote on the proposed plan at its Feb. 16 legislative meeting. Opportunities to comment during public testimony are available at the Feb. 2 and Feb. 16 board meetings. Information about signing up for public testimony is available in this School Board PDF.
Additional information is available on the Transportation Services website. The site will be updated as additional information, such as estimated number of students impacted by the change, becomes available.
If the plan is approved, information will be shared with families about specific transportation eligibility so that they can make informed choices during the open enrollment process.
Questions or comments about the plan can be emailed to transportationzones [at] seattleschools.org.