Alternative Transportation Plan
Woodland Transportation Committee Summary
In the course of the January 12th Woodland School Board meeting I suggested a meeting of stake holders to participate in a study and discussion session in support of developing transportation models for the Woodland School District(WSD). The need for changes to the current transportation model are required to accommodate time and distance logistics brought about with the addition of the new high school building.
I believe the stake holder meeting produced three products, (1) the important issues, (2) the options, and (3) the direction. The first product was a harvest of the issues that the stake holders found to be the most important considerations for developing a transportation model. The second product was a winnowing of potential transportation models to two specific models. The third product was a direction to trust and support for the school board, educators and transportation professionals to take all of the considerations into the final development and decision on behalf of the stake holders.
(1) The important issues
The stake holders discussed all of the important issues that they believed should be considered in developing a transportation model. A charrette process was facilitated and stake holders had an opportunity to add any issue the believed important enough for consideration. After all issues were compiled, the stake holders had an opportunity to rank all of the issues brought forward from the collective:
- (7) Cohesive bell schedule for all considerations
- (6) Length of bus ride
- (6) “Zero Period” education opportunity
- (6) Cohesive bell schedule
- (6) Need older sibling for child care
- (5) Education and student learning factors
- (4) Late bell schedule impacts
- (4) Student safety
- (4) Employee impacts WSD/KWRL
- (3) Students waiting on bus
- (3) Financial impacts
- (2) Missing too much class time for sports
- (2) Access to breakfast
- (2) Age appropriate transportation
- (2) Contract impacts and constraints
- (0) Transportation times too early or too late
- (0) Traffic
(2) The options
There were many potential transportation models considered each with a different approach or objective for evaluation. Potential school and transportation models included neighborhood schools, hub transportation, double run transportation, hybrid transportation and continuation of existing transportation.
The neighborhood school model was eliminated early on. Continuation of the the current transportation model was logistically not possible given the time and distance variables with the addition of the new high school model. KWRL was asked to evaluate a hub model and a double run model. The stake holder committee suggested a bell schedule for KWRL to evaluate which KWRL named the “Hybrid” model. After two stake holder committee meetings two models were left for KWRL, Administrators and the School Board to choose between, (1) the “Double Run” model, and (2) the “Hybrid” model.
The “Double Run” model
The “Double Run” model divides students transportation into two shifts based on two primary criteria, (1) grade levels and their respective buildings, and (2) school day duration. The vast majority of students within the Woodland School District are in four buildings with two school day durations. The Woodland High School(WHS) and the Woodland Middle School(WMS) have a 6 hour and 50 minute school day duration. The Woodland Intermediate School(WIS) and the Woodland Primary School(WPS) have a 6 hour and 30 minute school day duration.
The “Double Run” model is a systemic transportation approach that has buses transporting two of the building populations first and then going back out to transport the other two building populations. Most routes can transport both shifts with a single bus, while other routes have time and distance constraints that require a single bus for each shift.
The benefits from a “Double Run” transportation model are the efficiencies you are able to achieve through school bus and employee consolidation. While your transportation miles may go up in this model, your more expensive labor and school bus cost variables go down. Because the “Double Run” model only transports to two buildings at a time, 50% of your student population will be transported from home direct to their building with the remaining 50% of students only having to ride along to one building drop location before arriving at their own school building. This model provides significant reductions in the amount of time a student spends on a school bus to the entire WSD student population. The amount of time a child has to ride on a school bus has significant impact on student learning and a child’s over all education. The “Double Run” model would have WIS and WPS transported together on the first shift, and WHS and WMS together on the second shift. One of the significant benefits to the student populations that are transported together is the age appropriate transportation that is achieved. With age appropriate transportation the younger primary age students are not exposed to the behavior and conversation content among the older WHS and WMS population. The most frequent complaint KWRL receives stem from the interactions and exposures between transporting students with a K-12 age population.
If all WSD buildings had the same school day duration there would be no constraints that would mandate which student populations were transported in the first shift or the second shift. Due to WSD school day duration differences between the various schools, logistical feasibility requires that the schools with the shorter school day duration be transported first. If you transport the student populations with the longest school day duration first you have over 50% less time to transport those students home and get back to meet the bell schedule and load the remaining two buildings.
The downside issues associated with a “Double Run” transportation model are specific to the Woodland community and geography. There is a portion of the population that depends upon the availability of older students to care for younger siblings. With a “Double Run” transportation model the younger students would arrive home before their older siblings. The other down side associated with a “Double Run” transportation model is the early arrival to and late drop at bus stops due to the bell schedule and geography distance buses must travel to gather students.
The “Hybrid” model
The “Hybrid” model is different to the “Double Run” model in the way that is more of a situation approach to transportation specific to Woodland instead of a systemic approach. The “Hybrid” model is a modification of the existing transportation model and modifies existing geographic routes to accommodate the addition of the new high school building. Most all routes will continue to transport K-12 which will require that nearly all buses will travel to each building to drop students in the morning and load students in the PM.
The benefits of the “Hybrid” model are the similarity and continuity to the existing model that a portion of the community desire. The “Hybrid” model addresses some of the important issues that the stake holder committee developed. At this point the “Hybrid” model has only been developed and evaluated enough to determine the feasibility of bell schedule logistics. KWRL has determined that the “Hybrid” model is logistically feasible, but the distribution student populations and route specifics can still be adjusted to some degree without impact to bell schedule.
The “Hybrid” model accommodates a bell schedule that is most similar to the existing bell schedule as compared to other proposed models.
The downside of the “Hybrid” model is the complexity of the situational Band-Aid approach to student transportation model. The “Hybrid” model is more specific to making routes work and includes so many variables that it is far more rigid and difficult to meet bell schedules than a comprehensive systemic approach. The “Hybrid” model continues K-12 transportation, and adds to the length of time students ride the bus by adding the time and distance constraints of the new high school location. Some student will be on the school bus for nearly two hours in the PM due to the travel of buses that travel to each school to gather students before beginning school to home transportation.
The “Hybrid” model requires more drivers and school buses than any other model and has a higher operational cost estimate than the “Double Run” model.
The “Hybrid” model is not a conducive to capturing funding from OSPI within the STARS funding system due to the fact that it accrues labor hours that are not trending with miles as you travel from school to school to gather students before school to home transportation.
(3) The Direction
The stake holder committee supported further development and ultimate transportation model choice to KWRL and the educators and administrators that have a broader understanding of all the variables and considerations before us. The stake holder committee understands that ultimately the transportation model choice is a Woodland School Board decision and they support their ability to evaluate and weigh all of the issues and considerations in evaluating and choosing a transportation model.
The progression of the process should be a more in-depth discussion and evaluation between KWRL, Administrators and the Woodland School Board.