Park Hill proposes reduced bus routes, altered bell schedules to address transportation challenges

Published: Jun. 9, 2023 at 10:30 AM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

PARK HILL, Mo. (KCTV) - As school districts around the Kansas City metro deal with bus driver shortages, the Park Hill School Board introduced multiple proposals Thursday night aimed at addressing its own transportation challenges.

Among the proposals -- which the Board of Education is set to finalize on June 22 -- is a potential change in bell schedules for the 2023-24 school year at all elementary and middle schools. All strategies used to address the bus driver shortage fall into one of two categories, either to increase the number of qualified drivers or reduce the number of daily routes and trips.

The Park Hill School District’s schools operate on a three-tier system, starting at 7:15 (Tier 1), 8:10-8:15 (Tier 2), and 9:10 (Tier 3) a.m. The proposed bell schedule changes would move Walden Middle School from Tier 2 into Tier 1, and move Chinn Elementary from Tier 3 into Tier 2, an alteration of 55 and 48 minutes, respectively for each school.

No other school in the District would change its start and dismissal times by more than 20 minutes, and the Board of Education said all changes would result in an estimated reduction of need for nine 3-tier routes and bus drivers.

According to the student transportation update, the proposed changes to the bell schedules are a result of no contingency plans remaining after routes were combined and consolidated where possible within the 3-tier system. Those combined and consolidated routes lengthened bus routes and ride times for some students, creating significant delays to daily routes according to the Board of Education.

READ MORE: Olathe School District parents seek bus solution

Just like other districts have, Park Hill also said a 2023-24 contract proposal from First Student would incorporate increased wages and benefits for drivers, increased guaranteed hours for drivers, increased recruiting efforts and an attendance incentive. The District would also continue its combo jobs and positions for non-instructional staff to work as a driver and do their in-district job during non-driving times.

Fifteen additional route or trip drivers are sought through that program.

Finally, the Park Hill School District said it is considering implementing a 1-mile transportation boundary at all levels. Making that change would reduce a maximum of 66 routes and 22 3-tier route drivers, the District said.

When the final proposal is made on June 22, the Board of Education said it will include a pay rate increase for bus drivers and an official proposal on the 2023-24 bell schedule, along with proposed transportation boundaries at each grade level.

You can read the full transportation update here.