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December 13, 2022 School Board Recap: Transportation Update
Posted on 12/13/2022

During its Tuesday, December 13th meeting, the School Board voted to suspend consideration of changing to a three-bell schedule for the remainder of the 2022-2023 School Year. The Board also approved 16 other transportation recommendations and voted to further investigate opening school doors earlier while keeping bell times the same.

The recommendations stemmed from the Transportation Work Group, which the Superintendent convened in September and has met weekly to study issues affecting on-time transportation.

Since recommendations were first presented at the November 14th School Board meeting, feedback has been received from groups such as the Superintendent’s Teacher Advisory Council Roanoke Education Association, and Superintendent’s Student Advisory Council. The Board also received nearly 300 emails, hundreds of Facebook comments, and heard from 17 in-person speakers, among other feedback.

Citing parent/guardian, staff, and student input, the Board voted to suspend consideration of the three-bell schedule recommendation for the 2022-2023 school year. This recommendation, which included two versions, was initially recommended to reduce the number of drivers needed per route.

Another recommendation was to keep start and dismissal times the same but open doors earlier, which was something that parents/guardians whose students have been impacted by late buses requested. This would allow families, who may not otherwise be able to later in the morning, to drop off their students early. The early drop-off times would either be staffed by interested RCPS employees, who would be paid, or RCPS could hire an outside company. The Board voted to further investigate this option, specifically looking at staffing availability.

Roanoke City Public Schools outsources its transportation to a third-party vendor, Durham School Services. In October, RCPS issued a letter to Durham informing them that if the staffing shortages and delivery delays have not substantially improved by February 1, 2023, RCPS will consider terminating the contract. On Tuesday, the Board voted to receive a progress report shortly after February 1st, and revisit at that time whether to continue to outsource transportation to Durham or terminate the contract.

The Board also approved 16 other recommendations:

Effective Immediately

  • Ensure RCPS staff know the processes for working as a bus aide/monitor
  • Require Durham to contact local groups for driving assistance, as per and allowable in the contract
  • RCPS will ensure completion and communication of student discipline referrals to Durham and RCPS will study expanded solutions for discipline issues on buses
  • Request that Durham consider Winter Break pay
  • RCPS will again offer recruitment assistance to Durham, and the Board suggests Durham accept
  • Request Durham to consider holiday recognition
  • Collaborate with ESS for substitute bus aides
  • Increase collaborative trainings and employee recognition
  • Provide more professional development opportunities
  • Offer RCPS staff referral bonus for referring bus drivers/aides
  • Enhance communication to parents/guardians: Promote the need for parents/guardians to know their responsibility (walk) zones and consider carpooling, driving students to school, and discussing bus behavior expectations

    For the 2022-2023 School Year
  • Plan for English Learners (EL) to stay in their attendance zone
  • Explore costs and benefits of buying RCPS buses
  • Consider expansion of duties for SSOs
  • Continue Transportation Work Group, with additional representation from parents/guardians, RCPS teachers and staff, and students
  • Consider preschool space at each elementary school or creating preschool centers

Dr. Eli Jamison, Chair of the School Board, acknowledged and thanked the community for their feedback. She said Board members read every email and comment received. She and other Board Members also thanked members of the Transportation Work Group, “who have worked tirelessly” to find solutions.

40 Douglass Avenue NW, Roanoke, VA 24012 Phone 540-853-2502