April 5 election – part 2

A little more info on our recommendations for Tuesday’s election. Our perspective is that Park Hill is a center-left district. Recent elections show that voters in the district are center-right. For the retiring board members, one leaned right and one leaned left. We believe that having a board that is representative of the voters is important for trusted relationships, and making progress for the district.

The candidates we recommend represent what we believe to be the closest to center. School board elections are meant to be non-partisan, and that’s the approach we try to take in thinking about candidates. We look at a range of skill sets that the board needs, challenges and opportunities that face the district, and the ability to lead from the center. We feel that Daryl and Jason are well rounded candidates (in different ways) that will serve the community well. On any specific topic we may wish they were stronger, but we’re looking for balanced candidates, not candidates that may have stronger strengths – but on a narrower range of topics.

We have heard from supporters of other candidates urging us to reconsider based on perceived weaknesses of one candidate or the other. Again, we’re looking for well rounded and passionate candidates that learn, grow and lead on all matters that come before the board. We want a collaborative board that becomes better for all district stakeholders. We feel that Daryl Terwilleger and Jason Keck do that best in this election.

April 5 Elections

We have been quiet lately and just observing district activities and initiatives. A few people have reached out for our thoughts and perspectives on next week’s school board election. So, here goes…

The field this year is big. There have been a few times where there were 5 candidates running, but it’s been a long time since 8 were on the ballot for 2 open seats. This election cycle tends to have higher voter turnout than others. For example, last April, 2,200 votes were enough to be top-2, and elected. Three years ago, second place had 3,700 votes. With a big field, no incumbents and hopefully pretty good turnout, outcomes can be more unpredictable. It is likely that if candidates can get 3,000 votes they will earn a seat on the board.

Before we share some thoughts on this years election, we wanted to comment on the retiring board members. Todd Fane and Susan Newburger came onto the board together in 2010. That election had 8 candidates and low turnout. Fane received 1,303 votes and Newburger 1,188. We haven’t agreed with them all the time, but overall, the two of them did a nice job on the board and we really appreciate the time they have invested in the community. Over the years, each of them was responsive to feedback and questions – even when we disagreed.

As we think about this year’s election, we can’t help but think about the roles that Fane and Newburger played. Fane has a conservative foundation to his approach to the district, but has been open minded to how the district can serve our community. Newburger always brought a compassion for, and interest in, district teachers and staff that serve our students. They didn’t always see things exactly the same, but worked together well and were positive influences on the board and district.

We believe the most valuable aspect of a school board is the ability to work together, learn from each other, and collaborate on best strategies for the entire district. The board will be working with a new superintendent. They will also (assuming the issues pass) be overseeing significant investment in facilities in the coming years. We need a collaborative board that can work for our community, and earn the respect of our diverse stakeholders. We believe the most meaningful change occurs through leadership from the center, and not by pressure from the fringe.

Park Hill is a large district. We have wide diversity across the district, and a wide set of needs, challenges and opportunities. We recognize there are factions at all ends pulling for specific agenda items. Board members need to be able to listen to, give respect to, and earn trust from all stakeholders, and move the entire district forward.

Based on this, we believe that Daryl Terwilleger and Jason Keck are the top two candidates for the open seats. We have been impressed with Terwilleger’s corporate experience, his years of direct engagement within the district, and his message on the importance of strong public schools. He has invested time learning the issues, and preparing for this role. We also appreciate the fact that he has children attending Park Hill elementary and middle schools. With Keck, we appreciate his small business background, legal mindset, support for youth in the community and his passion for Park Hill to be a district of choice.

Combined, we feel that these two candidates can best promote engagement, and establish credibility, with all stakeholders in our community. We also feel that while bringing their own perspectives, they can work collaboratively with the rest of the board and administration. They can lead from the center.

Voters have the ability to vote for two candidates, but you do not have to. If you have a strong preference for either Daryl or Jason, but not the other – you can vote for one. For us, we’ll be voting for each of them as positive and passionate choices to provide leadership for our district.

Aug 9 School Board meeting

A few notes ahead of Thursday’s School Board meeting.

At a recent meeting, it was reported that the Board approved the purchase of land for a new elementary school. As expected, it’s on the western edge of the district. Based on location, we’ll call it Thousand Oaks Elementary. No timeline on construction that we know of. At the soonest, 2-3 years before it’s ready, with a fun redistricting process ahead of that.

Thursday has a pretty light agenda. There are a couple presentation items of interest for Thursday’s meeting.

Staffing

The presentation doesn’t go into detail on staffing levels, but notes shortages in nutrition services, adventure club, teacher’s aids, bus drivers, food suppliers and building trades.

https://boepublic.parkhill.k12.mo.us/attachments/9e7ed6a8-8965-434b-b4a4-0b3dad994c31.pdf

Nutrition Services –

Free school meals has increased demand for breakfast and lunches, while staffing challenges are making it difficult to prep and deliver to all students. More frustrating are supply chain challenges that are causing delays in getting food distribution to schools. The presentation notes that Missouri has cancelled all commodity food deliveries to schools through September. Labor and transportation challenges are additional sources of delays.

https://boepublic.parkhill.k12.mo.us/attachments/6b02ee3e-0091-4ffa-8861-f292affca60f.pdf

It will be interesting to hear the discussion on these topics. Log onto Thursday’s livestream for more details.

Lawsuit –

We’re sure you’ve heard that Park Hill, along with several other Northland districts and municipalities are being sued by a new “non-profit”, the Northland Parent Association. It’s not on the agenda for Thursday, but wouldn’t be surprised if it gets discussed. That discussion will likely not be public, as legal matters are typically covered in closed session.

Our take is that it’s a group of anti-maskers suing to stop the district’s current mask mandate. Realistically, by the time this case would work through the legal system we’ll be past Delta, have vaccines available for kids under 12 and have lower levels of community spread. Until then, the case will just cause districts to use taxpayer money on lawyers to defend the case. A few notes…

The group is being represented by Kevin Corlew, a former state representative. Corlew was elected to two terms in the Missouri House of Representatives before being defeated in 2018. After being defeated in 2018, he resigned his seat prior to the term expiring, allegedly to minimize the time until he could be a lobbyist. You could argue that representing a case like this makes sense to stay relevant prior to 2022 elections.

The group is a registered non-profit in Missouri. In their filing their stated purpose is that “The Association is organized exclusively for charitable and educational purposes within the meaning of section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, or the corresponding section of any future federal tax code”.

One could probably argue whether raising money to file lawsuits is a “charitable and educational purpose”. In a recent video posted to Facebook, one of the organizers stated that their sole priority was raising money to fund the lawsuits. On their GoFundMe site, it is noted that “Our goal is to fundraise for current and future litigation costs…”. We’re not quite sure how writing checks to Corlew for lawsuits is charitable, but will leave that to others to review.

As a non-profit, they also have to be careful about what they do in promoting elected officials and policies. However, on their Facebook page, they share political posts from Missouri officials. What we have is a group of angry parents aligned with a politician and (questionably) raising a little money through a non-profit to cost taxpayers money. All while fighting for policies that increase the impact of quarantines on students.

At the end of the day, all this will do is consume time and money that could be used to focus on keeping kids in schools, finding staff to take care of kids, and keeping kids fed. Those are issues we’d rather see parents prioritizing.

April 6 election – final thoughts

One last post in case you’re still deciding how to vote tomorrow. Here’s three reasons to NOT vote for incumbents.

1. In 2019, the Board (including incumbents Kyla Yamada and Kimberlee Ried) voted to approve $4.4 million in change orders that were above and beyond originally planned capital investments. These include items like middle school track and field facilities, concrete for new support services center and LEAD expansion.

2. Since the incumbents started their term in 2018, one of them has missed more than 10% of Board meetings – more absences than any other Board member during that time.

3. As the district continues to grow in diversity, the administration has made changes to make diversity and inclusion a priority. However, the elected Board is not reflective of district students, and our community.

Vote. Vote for one candidate. We recommend a vote for Brandy Maltbia Woodley.

April 6 election

In case you aren’t aware, Tuesday is an election day. For Park Hill, there are two school board seats up for election. Incumbents are Kimberlee Ried and Kyla Yamada. Other include: Brandy Maltbia Woodley, Tammy Thompson, Alberto Rivera and Jay Blumenthal.

While six are listed, Rivera and Blumenthal were not part of the PTA forum, and do not have committees established for their campaigns.

We encourage you to read the entire post, but the summary is this – we encourage you to vote for Brandy Maltbia Woodley for the Park Hill School Board.

Candidates are listed in the order that they filed to run. Based on this, the ballot order is:

  • Kyla Yamada
  • Kimberlee Nicole Ried
  • Tammy M. Thompson
  • Alberto Rivera
  • Brandy Maltbia Woodley
  • Jay Blumenthal

Ried and Yamada are campaigning together as the incumbents. Of interest, neither of them have been involved in campaign before. Ried was appointed to fill a vacancy in April 2017. In April 2018, Ried and Yamada were the only two candidates that ran for two open seats, so the election was not part of the ballot.

The April election typically gets a low turnout, especially in this year of a three-year cycle. In the April 2018 election, only around 4,500 people from within the district voted. If you go back to the April 2015 election, only 4,200 people voted for school board election. As a comparison, in the last contested school board election in April 2019 there were around 8,000 voters.

With expected low turnout, it could be a close election. Back in the April 2015 election, the top candidate received 2,200 votes. Second place was 300 votes less than that, and third place was 300 votes from second. 200-300 votes can likely impact this election.

Bottom line – with expected low turnout, incumbents that haven’t been elected before and strong competition, if your looking for some change in the Park Hill School Board, this is a great opportunity. If Woodley gets more than 2,000 votes, her chances are good.

Here’s our thoughts on the election…

Regarding the last 12+ months, and the pandemic, we think everyone in the district has done a good job. They (and all of us) have been navigating new territory and learning as we go. We’re not recommending Maltbia Woodley based of Board and district response to the pandemic.

The current Board has been in place since April 2018. During that time, they have overseen a lot of change. Some of these include:

  • Addition of two new elementary schools
  • Addition of new middle achool
  • Addition of new LEAD facility
  • Redistricting
  • Changes to start timea
  • Extra capital to expand the LEAD facility

The next several years will face many new challenges, as budgets are expected to be tight, student growth is more uncertain than in the past and district demographics continue to change. Most recent budgets show that capital and operating fund balances will be near, or below district threshold levels through 2023-2024. Increased expenses from COVID and state budget challenges may make the future financials even more challenging.

We believe that it is time for some fresh perspectives on the seven-person board. We would encourage everyone to vote for Brandy Maltbia Woodley for the Park Hill School Board. She has a wealth of deep experience, children in the district and a focus on many very critical issues for our students.

Ried and Yamada are running together as incumbents. If re-elected, that would be four years with no change. We don’t have anything against either of them specifically. It is annoying when incumbents run together. By running together, they’re promoting and encouraging the status quo. If you have had frustrations on parent engagement, community communication, decisions on new buildings or where your kids go to school – voting for the status quo makes it more unlikely to expect progress. On a seven person school board change in thought, perspectives and leadership is necessary to meet the needs of students and the community. Please do not  vote to support the status quo.

One last thing. All voters are allowed to cast votes for two candidates. You don’t have to do this. We don’t recommend that you do this. We recommend you vote for one candidate. We recommend you cast that vote for Brandy Maltbia Woodley (next to last on the candidate list) and vote for change on the Park Hill School Board.

Aug 13 Board Meeting

There’s a Board meeting tonight. With opening date already pushed back to September, and reopening plans in place, it likely won’t have the excitement level of the past couple of meetings. Livestreams of the meetings continue. This link should get you there, starting at 6:30. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCg4195slhlJKYS4S_gpGVLg/live

There are a few things on the agenda worth noting:

  1. There are two emergency cost items for approval. One for 30,000 face masks ($60,000) and one for 7,000 plexiglass shields ($175,000). These are necessary for reopening, but pointing them out as they are examples of unplanned expenses that the district is, and will be, facing this year. In late June, there was another emergency expense approval for $78,000 of hand sanitizer in preparation for summer school. We would expect to see more expenses like this.
  2. During the last two Board meetings, the district has used presentations for updates on reopening plans, but the presentations were not available prior to the meeting. This time, the presentation is available on the board website. There is quite a bit of good information in here. http://boepublic.parkhill.k12.mo.us/attachments/c53dbf79-0cc7-4520-9ec1-e17284f2a3af.pdf
    • Updates on community COVID (more later)
    • Positive cases during summer school (4 staff and 16 students)
    • Online vs in person enrollments (26.5% of district students enrolled online)
  3. 2020 tax rates and budget impacts. Bottom line, tax rates will stay the same, but will bring in less than expected revenue. The 2020-2021 budget was built assuming a 2.5% increase in aggregate assessed values of residential and commercial properties. The actual aggregate assessed values only increased 0.3%. New residential construction is adding to the tax base, but significant declines in assessed valued of commercial property is largely offsetting the residential growth. This means that district revenue from property taxes will be less than budgeted, and will cause further operating budget deficits this year. Net impact will be $1.1 million in less operating revenue, and $1.2 million less in debt service funds.
  4. At the July 23 meeting, there was discussion on renovations to the tennis complex on Barry Road. The district partners with KCMO on the facility. At that time, the plan was for renovation bids to be in by late July, and for final approval during this Board meeting. Based on bids coming in higher than expected (approx. $150,000) the district has to go back to KCMO to increase each party’s commitments to the project. If shared 50/50, that would be another $75,000 in unplanned expenses.

Back to COVID in our communities. We continue to see significant growth in cases and high positivty rates in Platte County. The Platte County Health Department publishes good zip code level data every day. KCMO publishes weekly zip code data every Tuesday. Compared to two weeks ago, here are in-district zip code case increases and percentage increases in cases:

  • 64510 – up 10 cases, +10%
  • 64151 – up 45 cases, + 56%
  • 64152 – up 47 cases, + 27%
  • 64153 – up 12 cases, + 70%
  • 64154 – up 31 cases, + 63%

In July, Platte Counted had 324 new positive cases. In the first 12 days of August, there have been 151 new positive cases, so on-track for similar growth. Of note, Monday (34 cases) and Tuesday (33 cases) are the two highest daily totals for Platte County since the beginning of the pandemic.

One other way of looking at our growth is the days it has taken to climb by 100 cases. We are continuing to see steady growth in new cases.

  • 0 – 100 cases – 56 days
  • 100 – 200 cases – 32 days
  • 200 – 300 cases – 24 days
  • 300 – 400 cases – 9 days
  • 400 – 500 cases – 7 days
  • 500 – 600 cases – 8 days
  • 600 – 700 cases – 7 days, based on crossing 700 this afternoon

On postivity rates, they continue to be high. Below is a chart from the Health Department that gets updated a few times per week. On a 7-day average, we’re back above 15%.

We’re sharing this because we continue to be walking a fine line on whether schools open in the hybrid mode, or full distance learning. We all want schools to be open. But, we’re definitely closer to distance learning than every day in person. It will be interesting to hear from the district on whether any gating criteria have been established that can give the public a better feel for what stage of opening we’ll be in.

The district has cited Johnson County as an example of established gating criteria a couple of times. Based on positivity rates at 15%, and cases climbing, we are very close to all buildings, including elementary, being in distance learning to start the year.

We still have a little more than 3 weeks until the start of the year. To get started in the hybrid mode, and build up to full in person, please continue to social distance, wear a mask and keep washing our hands.

Reopening thoughts

Another 13 positive cases in Platte County reported today, with half of them being in Parkville. Also, delay from the district on more details, and growing reports of districts considering all online to start the year. It’s starting to feel like early March before everything got crazy in the middle of the month.

We know that families across the district are trying to figure out what option to pick for school this fall. With the in-person option, the chance that a child could get exposed to coronavirus and contract COVID is a major concern. More commonly, it seems that parents have high levels of concern about the impact that classroom shutdowns will have on their child’s education.

Whether or not you think that COVID is a risk to you or your family, Park Hill is taking the matter seriously. Yes, there are some things in their reopening plan that can go further (mask requirements), but overall, they are taking it seriously. This is most obvious in their policy to close classrooms based on presumptive positive COVID cases. If there’s a presumptive positive in your classroom, you’ll receive a letter like this, and your kid will be home for awhile.

Whether or not you think COVID is a serious health risk or not, I think we can all agree that classroom closures for up to 14 days at a time will impact student learning. It will also create major impacts for teachers and disrupt parents work schedules. We don’t want closed classrooms.

Every level of school has different risk factors.

High school kids may have more risk of exposure and transmission, but can do more regarding mask wearing and distancing. Classroom closures may have the most impact on high schools, as the mix of teachers and students is the most complex based on number of classes, and different students in each class. If a high school classroom is shut down, most students can probably manage themselves, making impact on parents relatively minor.

Elementary schools have different factors. While it seems like there is more information every day, kids under 10 are generally thought to be less susceptible to COVID. Teachers and students are also better able to be more isolated (at least relative to high school). On the other hand, it is harder for elementary kids to wear masks all day, and keep kids apart from each other. If a elementary room gets closed down, parents are home from work for up to two weeks supporting their kid(s) with distance learning.

Middle school is somewhere in the middle on many of these factors.

Here’s a overly simple risk assessment model for elementary schools in the district. We looked at them as they have the most local geographies and most variance in demographics. For each elementary, we looked at three variables. These include:

  • Number of cases in the zip codes associated with the school. Most elementary schools draw students from multiple zip codes. We included the total of all zip codes connected with the school. Data is a week old based on delays in zip code level reporting from KCMO.
  • School utilization. This is from the districts annual demographic report, and is a metric based on student enrollment and building size. Utilization of more than 100% will have less ability to create space than buildings with 80% utilization.
  • Percentage of diverse populations withing the building. This is also from the district demographic report. Platte County does not give COVID data based on race, but for KCMO, 70% of cases are with non-white individuals. In Missouri, 53% of cases are from non-white individuals.

Again, this is not intended to assess a student’s or teacher’s likelihood on contracting COVID while being in school. The intent is to look at factors that could be correlated with presumptive positives that close classrooms. If we had zip code level data on neighborhoods ignoring social distancing guidelines or not wearing masks, we would build a better model, but don’t have that yet. Unfortunately, it’s probably pretty prevalent.

The data would lead to a conclusion that a classroom in an overcrowded school, with mostly non-white students that draws kids from zip codes with high case loads would have higher likelihood of classroom closures than the inverse.

This is far from perfect, but hopefully can allow for a better assessment of risks. The case information is dated. KCMO published zip code data every Tuesday, so we’ll update when fresh data is available. With that, we’ll also look at changes in case counts from previous week.

What this tells us is that Renner probably has a higher likelihood of having classroom closures than Hopewell. With the data, you can determine what weighting you put on these variables, or others that are important to you.

We’ll keep thinking about different ways to refine this. It’s less relevant with middle and high schools based on the broader grouping of geographies and students.

We will update this as more data is available. In the meantime, wear a mask, wash your hands and social distance. The quicker that case numbers decline, the less risk we’ll have for classroom closures when school starts.

Reopening

Obviously, the big news with Park Hill this week is the reopening plan. Here’s a few thoughts.

  • We give Park Hill credit for the work they are putting into this. The state of Missouri isn’t doing much to provide guidance and/or direction. This puts tremendous stress on districts to figure everything out on their own. Most (but not all) buildings fall with the city of Kansas City. This is providing more specific guidance, but no funding for preparations. 
  • We’re a pretty large district. With thousands of families and district employees impacted, there’s always going to be conflicting opinions. 
  • We appreciate the district going public with a plan fairly early. Even if things have to adjust before the start of school, at least we all know what the general guidelines and expectations are. 
  • For the benefit of students, teachers and staff, we wish they were more strict on masks. The rules should be clear, so that teachers and school administrators aren’t having to make a lot of judgement calls. Wear a mask or you’re going home. Very limited exceptions.
  • For those of us who will have kids in classroom this fall, it’s likely to be chaotic. It sounds like the district’s stance is that if there is a positive case in a classroom, that classroom will be shut down for up to 14 days. We are hearing of 4-6 classrooms that have had to shut down during the first two weeks of summer school (with 25% or so enrollment). For parents, kids and teachers, this will be tough. There could be a lot of bouncing back and forth between in class room and distance learning.
  • For those of us who choose the online option, while it hopefully brings more consistency and hopefully is greatly improved from Spring’s distance learning, it’s taking a big jump into a brand new environment. 
  • The impacts will also vary greatly based on student age. There could be third or fourth graders who will excel with the online program, but for high school students that may have limited advanced course options, online may not fit as well. 
  • One certainty in this is that there will continue to be uncertainty. We all want more details and specifics on many aspects of reopening. Unfortunately, with everything changing so quickly, there’s likely to still be significant change to plans. 
  • It sounds like the district will be publishing some additional information early this week. Stay tuned for new news. 
  • There’s a Board of Education meeting this Thursday. It’s a virtual meeting that will be live streamed for all to participate. If you have comments on reopening, send them in to have included in the record.
  • Platte County has been fortunate in the number of Covid cases so far. However, we are seeing an increase in positive cases. From July 1 to July 17, positive cases have climbed 52%. Our absolute numbers (365 cases) are still relatively low, but numbers are going up more quickly. Almost a third of the cases (115 positives) are from the last two weeks.  Wear a mask, limit unnecessary activities, social distance and be safe. We all want to get back to a safer environment.  

Jan 9 Board meeting

The first Board of Education meeting of 2020 is Thursday night. There’s not a super heavy agenda.

There will be information presented on next year’s (2020-2021) budget. As a reminder, during this fiscal year (2019-2020), the district has a budget deficit. This means that operating expenditures are greater than operating revenues. The district’s budget for 2019-2020 had $5.8 million more in operating expenditures than operating revenue.

For next year (2020-2021), the district is assuming another year of budget deficits. The board doesn’t approve a budget until June, so some things can move around, but this preliminary information shows operating expenditures being $2.3 million more than operating revenue. The document does note that this is before accounting for any savings from start time and transportation changes. The plan that was adopted assumed $850,000 in annual savings. We’ll see how close to that number is achievable.

This is consistent with the 2019-2020 budget, where there were forecasts for the next three years. In that budget, operating deficits for next year, and the two year after that were anticipated.

In the materials on budget assumptions, there is also a page with forecasted enrollments for next year, by school. As we have shared in the past, redistricting didn’t do much to balance enrollments. This information reinforces that point.

Transportation, again

Here’s a link to 793 pages of additional information for the transportation RFP. There’s a few pages of Q&A, and them a number of appendix items. The vast majority of the content is specific route information.

https://www.parkhill.k12.mo.us/UserFiles/Servers/Server_62416/File/Business%20Services/Purchasing/Round%201%20QA.pdf

The primary goal of start time changes was to reduce the number of drivers/buses/routes.

Along the way, there were some questions on bus capacities, bus ridership numbers, and route efficiency. Answers to these topics included:

  • Official ridership counts are only done a few times per year.
  • Bus capacity is 58 students for K-5 and 48 students for 6-12. For K-5, this is 80% of rated capacity. For 6-12, this is 66% of rated capacity.
  • The district estimates that 60% of students use district transportation.
  • Routes have to be constructed with the assumption of 100% ridership, because it fluctuates based on weather, season and other factors.

We have only scanned the data in the documents. This would be a pretty cool research project for someone with a lot of time on their hands.

The document is structured in a way so that if follows a bus through the day, then moves onto the next bus. We’ll start be describing one bus, starting on page 79 of the file.

  • 6:32: bus 1 leaves First Student for a Park Hill South route. The route has 73 total riders (above the rated capacity of 48). This means the district is taking ridership into account when building routes.
  • 6:44: First student pick-up at 6:44
  • 6:48-6:56: Four additional stops
  • 7:10: Arrives at Park Hill South
  • 7:52: Leave Park Hill South for English Landing Elementary Route. Ridership listed at 73, again, above rates capacity of 58 for elementary school
  • 7:58: first pick-up
  • 8:04-8:14: two additional pick-ups
  • 8:25: arrive at English Landing
  • 9:00: arrive back at garage

A couple notes. First, both of these routes are listed at higher than capacity. Second, the routes are well within the district policy for kids to be on buses no longer than 45 minutes. There are a number of examples of routes scheduled with more than rated capacity. We’re not sure if the district is applying the 60% ridership est, or some other metric.

  • Page 79: Park Hill South route with 73 kids
  • Page 82, Park Hill South route with 103 kids
  • Page 83: Union Chapel route with 75 kids
  • Page 86: Park Hill South route with 109 kids
  • Page 92: Park Hill route with 113 kids
  • Page 107: Park Hill route with 68 kids
  • Page 108: Hopewell route with 74 kids
  • Page 122: Walden route with 83 kids
  • Page 525: Park Hill route with 67 kids
  • Page 535: Hopewell route with 73 kids

On the other end, there are a lot of routes scheduled with significantly less than rated capacity. It makes us wonder how much effort has been put into route consolidation. This isn’t all inclusive, but here’s a list of some examples:

  • Page 118: Linecreek route with 44 kids
  • Page 123: Southeast route with 39 kids
  • Page 137: English Landing route with 30 kids
  • Page 141: Park Hill South route with 42 kids
  • Page 143: Linecreek route with 28 kids
  • Page 153: English Landing route with 50 kids
  • Page 196: Prairie Point route with 39 kids
  • Page 216: Tiffany Ridge route with 36 kids
  • Page 224: Union Chapel route with 47 kids
  • Page 245: Lakeview Middle School 43 kids
  • Page 246: Hawthorn route with 39 kids
  • Page 264: Renner route with 45 kids
  • Page 269: Graden route with 38 kids
  • Page 273: Southeast route with 47 kids
  • Page 278: Union Chapel route with 53 kids
  • Page 346: Lakeview route with 49 kids
  • Page 473: Graden route with 48 kids
  • Page 476: Plaza route with 39 kids
  • Page 477: Southeast route with 40 kids
  • Page 483: Hawthorn route with 38 kids
  • Page 518: Linecreek route with 37 kids
  • Page 534: Park Hill South route with 33 kids

That’s several quick examples. There’s a couple hundred more pages of this, but you probably get the point.

The three-tier plan approved by the Board is budgeted to reduce 20 routes. Based on the frequency of buses significantly below capacity, it raises concerns as to why more wasn’t done to consolidate routes. Time doesn’t appear to be a concern. It is very rare that kids are on a bus anywhere close to the 45-minute district policy.

Granted, route consolidation in a two-tier system would do little to increase hours for drivers. However, it seems like a good first step. Also, if the district wanted an engaged committee to help, information like with would have been valuable. Instead, it’s buried on an RFP page on their website.

All of this makes us believe more strongly that we need a better way to plan routes. As part of enrollment processes, it seem like there could be a way to identify regular, occasional and rare use of district transportation. This would allow for better route development, and a more efficient system.