September 17, 2021 Informational Message on TESD Busing
The T/E School District would like to thank families for their patience with busing issues this school year. We understand that busing delays and inconsistencies have presented challenges for many of our families. This informational message is provided to explain some of the factors impacting busing for TESD students this year along with possible solutions being implemented.
- The Pandemic: COVID has led more families to drive their students to school. This has increased the amount of parent vehicles dropping off and picking up at all schools making it more difficult for buses to enter and exit the roads around the schools.
- National and local driver shortages: TESD bus contractors are unable to supply the number of needed drivers, which leads to fewer buses being available and necessitates longer bus routes. Pennsylvania has a 12-week credentialling period for new bus drivers, eliminating a “quick fix” with temporary drivers that some other states have enacted.
Some bus drivers for TESD that started the year have left service, so the problem is significant and ongoing. For example, six additional drivers decided not to return during the second week of school. With 36 hours’ notice, TESD had to incorporate 218 stops with 713 students into existing bus routes. TESD is working on permanent solutions to the impact of adding these additional stops to existing bus routes, but unfortunately the District is still limited by the current bus driver shortages.
- Road closures: Some township roads remain closed because of Hurricane Ida, requiring longer detours and delays.
- Re-routing of buses: Every year the Transportation Department adjusts routes and times based on actual ridership that occurs during the opening weeks of school. On an ongoing basis, the Department adjusts routes to decrease ride times and to improve efficiency. As more drivers are trained and become available, routes are added to reduce the longer ride times. When changes do occur, parents will be contacted by the Transportation Department.
- Extending the drop-off and pick-up times: With the problem being many vehicles in a particular area all at once, parents may choose to drop children off earlier or pick them up later to decompress the traffic around arrival and pickup times. This may in turn ease the ability for buses to enter and exit the property in a timelier manner.
Student drop-off and pick-up times have been modified as follows by level:
Elementary Schools – Morning
Supervision in common areas will be provided starting at 8:30AM. Parent drop-off traffic typically peaks between 8:45AM and 9:00AM. Parents may avoid traffic by dropping off between 8:30AM and 8:45AM
Elementary Schools – Afternoon
Students may be picked up as late as 4:30PM. Parent pick-up traffic typically clears around 4:05PM. Parents may avoid traffic by picking up between 4:05PM and 4:30PM.
Middle Schools – Morning
Supervision in common areas will be provided starting at 7:45AM. Parent drop-off traffic typically peaks between 8:00AM and 8:20AM. Parents may avoid traffic by dropping off between 7:45AM and 8:00AM.
Middle Schools – Afternoon
Students may be picked up as late as 4:00PM. Parent pick-up traffic typically clears around 3:30PM. Parents may avoid traffic by picking up between 3:30PM and 4:00PM.
High School – Morning
Conestoga High School will begin providing supervision in the cafeteria and atrium for students beginning at 7:15 each morning. All students being dropped off by a parent should enter through the main entrance and proceed to the cafeteria. Bus riders will proceed to the atrium upon arrival. Students may access the entire building starting at 7:30. As a reminder, parents may drop off in the bus circle beginning at 7:40.
- Traffic management: TESD is exploring options with police and township officials regarding personnel to direct traffic and potential signage and traffic markings to allow for smoother traffic flow. The opening of an additional parking lot at the high school may enable more cars to park instead of riding through the busy roads at the beginning and end of the day.
TESD monitors traffic and bus ride times every day. The District hopes to see steady improvement in the coming weeks and remains ready to explore additional strategies. Thank you again for your patience and cooperation.