Board to consider adding back several bus routes back this fall
With a new transportation vendor coming onboard this summer, district leaders are confident service will improve and some bus routes can be added back for the fall. However, fully implementing transportation at pre-pandemic levels may not feasible at this time due to limited availability of buses and drivers, as well as rapidly rising transportation costs.
On Thursday evening (May 26), administrators will ask the school board to consider a plan to give about 500 more students access to busing next year by increasing the number of bus routes in service from 65 to 70. The recommendation would return transportation service to pre-pandemic levels for elementary and middle school students, but keep high school levels where they’ve been this year. If approved, students would be eligible for busing within the following transportation zones:
- Elementary = .5 miles or further from school
- Middle school = 1 mile or further from school
- High school= 2 miles or further from school
As part of the plan, administrators will also be recommending that transportation not be provided for choice programs at this time. The district offers two choice programs: Amigos Unidos Dual Language Spanish Immersion at Lake Elmo Elementary and GATE (Gifted and Talented Education) at Stillwater Middle School (SMS). Transportation to Amigos Unidos has never been provided for students who live outside of Lake Elmo’s boundaries. Busing for GATE students living outside of the SMS attendance area was added as an option to families during the 2017-2018 school year, but wasn’t available for much of this year due to ongoing transportation issues.
Should more resources become available staff would work to restore transportation services to pre-pandemic levels, including reducing the high school zone to 1 mile and reinstating GATE busing.
The school board is expected to vote on the transportation recommendations on Thursday evening. You can attend the school board meeting in-person at the Oak Park Building, 6355 Osman Ave North in Stillwater, beginning at 6:30 p.m. or watch it live online.
In Other News
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This year marks the 146th commencement exercise for our high school.
The goal is to bring service back to pre-pandemic levels (79 routes) as soon as possible.
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District leaders hope to reinstate busing to about 500 more students next year.
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