One of the most important factors in considering a change to school start times is the impact on transportation. The East Greenbush Central School District transports nearly 4,500 students to approximately 50 schools encompassing four counties twice a day. It requires much planning and coordination to ensure students are picked up from home, driven to school and then brought home safely each day.
We are proud to manage one of the safest school bus fleets in New York State (99.2% safety rating from the NYS Department of Transportation), and will continue those efforts should there be a change to school start times that affects our bus routes.
Q: Why is transportation one of the biggest factors regarding a change to school start times?
A: School start times are impacted greatly by the transportation of students to and from school. In the East Greenbush CSD, we transport approximately 4,500 students to and from school every day. This includes approximately 4,000 district students to our seven schools, as well as, any private, parochial or special education placement students who live within our school district boundaries. This requires additional bus routes and transfers that run through Columbia High School and the Bus Garage.
Q: How many out-of-district locations do you drive to and from each day?
A: We transport students to approximately 39 out-of-district locations each day (22 private/parochial schools and 17 special education placements). Our school buses transport students to locations as west as Rotterdam and as east as Pittsfield, Massachusetts.
Q: Why do you need to transport those students who don’t attend our schools?
A: We are required by state education law to transport students who live within our school district boundaries to private/parochial schools and special education placements. We are also required by federal law to transport any students to our schools who become homeless so that their education is not interrupted.
Q: Why can’t all of the schools start at the same time?
A: We only have a certain number of buses so we need to stagger the times into three different trips – elementary, middle, and high school.
Q: How many school buses does the district have in its fleet?
A: We currently have 103 school buses. On any given day 10-12 buses are out of service for maintenance/repairs, and two days a week, 6 buses are out of service for NYS Department of Transportation inspections.
Q: Have you considered a two-tier busing model?
A: Yes. During our research into school start times, we worked with an independent transportation company to learn about those options. They found that changing to a two-tier model would require purchasing additional buses, hiring additional drivers, more crowded buses and longer bus ride times. That is not feasible given the survey results that said increases in the school budget and property taxes would not be a favorable option.
Q: If school start times are changed, how will that impact ride times and the distance from homes to bus stops?
A: The proposal would maintain adequate ride times (30-45 minutes) for elementary, middle and high school bus routes. There would be some consolidation of bus stops, but mainly for high school aged students.
Q: The proposal shows the elementary school start time changing to 7:30 a.m. with bus pickups between 6:55-7:15 a.m. That means some elementary students could be at their bus stops in the dark for part of the school year.
A: Only a few of the earliest pickups would be at 6:55 a.m., and those would all be more rural areas where the bus stop is at the end of their driveway. It essentially would be door-to-door transportation. Most bus pickups would occur after 7:00 a.m.