- Fern Ridge High
Transportation Changes Begin in August
7/5/2022 -- Update: As we have been sharing in recent months, Parkway and school districts across the country are experiencing a workforce shortage, specifically, a significant shortage of bus drivers. At the end of this school year, we were 13 bus drivers short every day.
As a result of this shortage, we need to adjust our transportation services and reduce the number of bus routes for the upcoming school year. We have identified neighborhood schools where it would be safe for students to walk to school if needed within a mile of the school. Safe walking zones are neighborhoods where there are sidewalks and students do not have to cross a major intersection to get to school.
Starting in August, bus service will not be provided for elementary students in neighborhoods within a mile of the school. Families who are impacted by this change have been notified directly.
Based on the safe walk zones, the schools impacted by this change are Barretts, Claymont, Craig, River Bend, Ross, Henry, Shenandoah, Wren, Oak Brook and Sorrento Springs. There is no change for middle and high school students who live within a mile as they were previously not receiving bus service.
We regret having to make this change and fully understand the impact it may have on our families. The state of Missouri requires public school districts to provide transportation for students who live more than 3.5 miles from their school. We have been very fortunate in Parkway to provide bus service outside of .5 miles for many years. At this time, we are only reducing transportation for those who live approximately one mile from their school and in instances where it is also deemed safe to walk.
This is not a financial issue as we have the budget and buses in order to provide transportation. We simply do not have enough drivers. Unfortunately, schools across St. Louis and the country are experiencing the same challenges and having to make difficult decisions in order to safely transport students to school.
We want to make everyone aware of the change now to give you time to make plans for next year. We also want to support our families in any way we can to ensure students safely travel to and from school each day. Schools will be working to create neighborhood walker support groups for students and families who choose to walk to school together. Look for more information from your school about this over the summer. We will also continue to aggressively recruit more bus drivers and our school board recently approved an improved pay scale for new and current drivers.
All families at all schools K-12 who do qualify for bus service were surveyed to find out if they plan to ride this year.
If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to us or the Transportation Department directly at 314-415-8500.
6/1/2022 -- Parkway continues to face a critical shortage of bus drivers. Based on the number of students riding the bus this year, we are short 13 drivers – this is about 30 bus routes impacting roughly 1,000 students.
Recently, we convened a Transportation Task Force made up of parents, staff and school leaders to problem-solve the existing bus driver shortage. We expect a more severe shortage of drivers in the fall.
This is what we heard:
- There was substantial support for increasing bus driver compensation
- Overwhelmingly, parents and staff did not support adding bus tiers or changing start times
- Parents do not support increasing the number of students to three to a seat
- There is general support for expanding walk zones when it is safe and decreasing the number of bus stops
Based on feedback, the Transportation Task Force recommendations are:
- Increase compensation and adjust salary scales for bus drivers (as a result, the board approved a pay increase for bus drivers in May)
- Expanding neighborhood walk zones from the current practice of .5 miles to a 1-mile walk zone. Neighborhood walk zones are areas with sidewalks that do not require students to cross a major street. No bus service would be provided within neighborhood 1-mile walk zones.
- Decrease the number of bus stops which allows for more routes to be run by the same driver
- Continue aggressive summer recruitment communication plan
- Encourage parents to drive students if able and complete a survey stating their intent to ride
- Neighborhood walker family support groups
- Outsource alternative transportation
- Put additional students on a bus when feasible
The Board of Education will review the task force recommendations at the June 15 meeting.