During its June 23 meeting, the Leander ISD Board of Trustees approved changes to the bus route and bell schedule that impact start times for middle and high school students for the upcoming school year. Additionally the changes will save close to $1 million with more efficient bus routes.
Eliminating 18 buses running everyday is expected to give the district $955,252 in potential savings, according to the district.
Staff had originally proposed a schedule that sequentially started school for students–elementary, middle, high school. However, the late start time for highschoolers had some board members concerned about how the schedule would impact students who work afterschool, students who take care of siblings, and extracurricular events. The revision to staff’s recommendation is as follows:
- Elementary – 7:30 am to 2:45 pm (shifts 10 min earlier)
- High School – 8:15 am to 3:35 pm (shifts 25 min earlier)
- Middle School – 9:05 am to 4:20 pm (shifts 55 min later)
The current reality is that there is a bus driver/monitor shortage at LISD. There are multiple drivers running two routes per school level. During the school year, there are an average of 30 routes uncovered each day.
There is also increased traffic especially at the campuses with more than one school at the site: GHS/DMS, VHS/FPMS, VRHS/HMS, RHS/WMS, AKIN/FSMS.
LISD bus ridership numbers continue to increase including Pre-K, special programs transportation, Early College High School 2022.
Multiple routes frequently arrive at the school 15-30 minutes late in the morning and afternoon times.
Prior to the new bell schedule, bus routes have not worked well and according to LISD, “inefficient capacity on buses requires excess routes.”
Two outside companies audited the LISD transportation department and
recommended the following:
● Adjust bell times with a minimum of 45-55 minutes between each level,
● Restructured bus routes which resulted in a reduction of 18 routes, saving the
district approximately $1 million dollars annually.
Improve on time performance
○ Students arrive to school on time,
○ Student arrive to home at a reasonable time,
○ Potentially reduce time students are on the bus.
● More efficient routes
○ Reduction of full-time equivalent – not reduce current staff members,
○ Cost savings of almost $1 million dollars.
● Ability to continue transporting students in specialty programs and schools
● Increased safety
○ Decrease peak traffic density around campuses close to one another
In 2018-2019, a committee of trustees and staff members was formed to research and discuss options to improve transportation by addressing these two questions:
1) Are the start and end times of our schools adequate to allow transportation to effectively and efficiently transport our students?
2) Do we have adequate minutes in the school day to meet the needs of our students and staff?
Findings and recommendations were presented to the LISD Board in January, April and May 2020.
In 2020, the recommended changes from the committee were implemented in the fall of 2020 to create a triple tier bell schedule:
○ Adjusting the school start and end times,
○ Increasing the amount of time between each level’s start time,
○ Adjusting order of school times to start with elementary school first, middle school second, high school last.
The committee did review adding 45 minutes between each level, and believed it would provide additional relief to transportation, but they did not feel that the summer of 2020 was an appropriate time to recommend that change.
This research was compiled by Leander ISD.