New Procedure for Bus Assignment Changes
Adoption Date: 5/17/2004, Revised: 11/5/2012; 07/13/2015
800 - OPERATIONS
The decision of the Board of Education to provide transportation for students has been made to assure equal opportunities for all children of the Northampton Area School District to obtain an education. Transportation is also provided, according to the provisions of Act 372, 1972 Legislature, for children in non-public schools who reside in the School District.
Recognizing that transportation is an integral part of the total educational pro¬gram, the following objectives have been established by the Board of Education:
1. Furnish transportation to those students whose health or distance from school makes this service essential.
2. Provide the safest transportation possible.
3. Operate the transportation program efficiently and economically.
4. Adapt student transportation to the requirements of the educational program.
The responsibility for the transportation program is assigned to the Transportation Supervisor through the Superintendent of Schools.
Transportation will be provided to and from school for kindergarten and elementary pupils residing one and one-half miles or more and secondary pupils residing two miles or more by the nearest public roadway from the school in which the pupils are lawfully enrolled and to which transportation is lawfully authorized or required. Exceptions will be made only for those pupils residing in areas where road or traffic conditions constitute a hazard to the safety of the child when so certified by the Department of Transportation or when the health of a student mandates that transportation should be provided. A physician’s note or IEP must document the need.
C. MAXIMUM TIME ON BUS
With the exception of extracurricular activity runs, the administration will make every reasonable attempt to limit the amount of time spent on the bus for public and non -public school students.
D. CAPACITY OF BUS
After a period of two weeks to adjust bus routes and stops, it shall be District practice to limit the number of children who are eligible to ride school buses to the number of seats on the bus. All standard size buses have a seating capacity of 72 passengers, three passengers to a seat. State law requires buses to have 39-inch seats, which allow a 13-inch seating space for each student. No child shall be required to stand while the bus is in motion.
E. NON-ASSIGNED BUS RIDERS
Students who are not assigned to a particular bus (except as provided under Section H) shall not be permitted to ride on school buses. Adults other than authorized administrators, teachers, or bus monitors shall not be permitted to ride on school buses on regular routes.
F. BUS ROUTES
The School District shall establish bus routes that will provide safe and efficient transportation service, to and from school, to the students who qualify for transportation. These routes will be made up of only approved roadways and will not include the use of any private or unimproved roadways. These routes may require changes and are subject to rerouting. The decision to reroute or changes on these routes will be made at the discretion of the School District.
G. CRITERIA FOR ESTABLISHMENT OF STOPS
For the safety of students already on the bus, as well as that of the traveling public, bus stops should be consolidated in order to reduce the hazards caused by frequent stops along a road or highway. In determining stops, consideration will be given to locations at which damage to property will be at a minimum. Also considered will be the effect of the stop on a safe, reasonable, and efficient route for the bus.
Concentration of students and suitability of waiting and loading areas will be considered first in determining stops.
Other agencies, particularly municipal governments, have a responsibility for requiring the installation of sidewalks, traffic lights, and police and crossing guards, as well as the maintenance of safe roadway conditions.
1. Maximum Stops Per Mile
Bus stops shall be limited to four per mile unless hazardous conditions exist or the health of a student or the IEP mandates an additional bus stop.
2. Hazardous Conditions
The administration may establish a stop at any location, which, in its judgment, best ensures the health, safety, and welfare of those affected. Should a stop be located within the mileage limits established above, the School District shall apply to the Department of Transportation for a hazardous route investigation. Should any party differ with the School District’s decision, it may request the School District to appeal to the Law Enforcement Agency having jurisdiction for a route investigation. The request shall be in writing to the School District. The bus stop(s) as originally established shall be continued until the hazardous route investigation is completed.
3. Student Health Conditions
Upon written request on School District forms, the administration may, at its discretion, establish a stop for a student whose health mandates that such a bus stop be provided. A physician’s statement clearly indicating the reason the child cannot walk to school or to a bus stop shall accompany each request. The school physician will review these statements for final approval.
4. Unimproved or Private Roads
Buses will not be required to traverse unimproved or private roads. Unimproved roads shall include all dirt roads.
5. Permanent Bus Stops
Students must board and depart the bus at the assigned authorized bus stop.
6. Kindergarten and Pre-Kindergarten Student Bus Stops
Kindergarten and Pre-Kindergarten students must be met at their bus stop by a parent, guardian or designee, or they will not be allowed off the school bus and will be returned to the school or a location determined by the School District. A parent may request in writing to the transportation office that the kindergarten student be allowed off the bus with an older sibling.
H. SCHOOL BUS SCHEDULE
The school bus schedule shall be updated each year by the Transportation Supervisor and the Bus Contractor’s Representative.
Bus schedules which detail the bus stops, times, and a list of pupils being transported shall be located in each bus, the principal’s office, the Bus Contractor’s Office, and the District Administration Office at all times. Parents/ guardians shall be notified of the annual bus schedule in mid-August of each year.
There shall be strict adherence to the bus schedule on the part of drivers, parents, children, and school authorities.
I. CHANGE IN BUS STOPS OR BUS RUNS
All requests for the establishment of a new or the change of an existing bus stop assignment must be made in writing to the Supervisor of Transportation. All parties involved may be given an opportunity to comment on proposed changes. The School District may require supportive documentation for some requests. The School District has sole right to make final decisions regarding bus stop locations.
1. Permanent Changes
The Transportation Supervisor and or a designated representative shall have the authority to add, delete or transfer a student to an existing run/stop and to add or delete a run/stop. The parent/guardian, building principal, contractor, and bus driver will be notified.
2. Temporary Changes
The Transportation Supervisor, the building principal or his/her designee, and the Bus Contractor’s Representative shall have the authority to temporarily add, delete or transfer a student to an existing stop and/or run from the student’s assigned building. Such authority shall be given upon written request by the parent or legal guardian of the student involved. Verbal requests will be considered for extenuating circumstances only. Changes authorized under this procedure are for unusual circumstances and are valid only for a period of one day. The bus driver(s) shall be given written permission for the change by the above-mentioned school or transportation official(s).
J. TRANSPORTATION CHANGES REQUESTS
Any request initiated by the parent or guardian for permanent changes and/or temporary changes in student transportation to and from a location such as home, childcare facilities and baby sitters must be made to the transportation office by using the District Change Request Form (Procedure 810). This request should be submitted prior to the beginning of the new school year, allowing for a three (3) day notice. All transportation arrangements in place at the end of the current school year will be carried over into the new school year unless the transportation office is notified.
Student transportation arrangements must remain the same for each day of the week (Monday through Friday). Students will need to have one regular morning bus stop and one regular afternoon bus stop. No additional expenses will be incurred by the district to meet individual needs.
Parents will have the option of changing their son’s/daughter’s pickup or return location a maximum of one (1) time per month. Any additional request will be handled on an individual basis by the transportation office.
Emergency situations will be handled on a day-to-day basis. The Transportation Supervisor and the building principal are the only individuals authorized to make any bus changes. Therefore NO NOTES are to be given to the bus driver at any time as a way of communicating this emergency information to the school.
K. SCHOOL BUS DISCIPLINE
Principals of schools have complete authority over their students from the time they board the bus on their way to school to the time they leave the bus on returning home. Bus drivers will report all student misconduct to the Bus Contractor’s Representative on matters that relate to the conduct of such pupils via the “Bus Misconduct Report” or written driver statement.
Bus drivers have immediate authority for students at all times while being transported to and from school and on trips.
School Bus Discipline, Administrative Procedures shall be strictly followed and enforced by all parties.
L. SCHOOL CLOSING
The decision to close schools or begin school late will be made by the Superintendent of Schools. In his or her absence, the decision will be made by the Assistant Superintendent.
When the Northampton Area School District is closed, no children are transported to any other public or non-public schools. When schools are closed early, students in other public and non-public schools are picked up early, also.
M. STUDENT SAFETY
All vehicles used in the transportation of students shall meet or exceed the minimum requirements established by the state and federal government.
At least two times a year, the District shall instruct drivers to provide instruction in safe riding practices and emergency evacuation drills for bus riding students.
In case of an accident, the Board’s policy on “Emergency School Bus Procedures” (810.2) shall be automatically followed.
N. BUS PASSES
Should the conditions develop in which ineligible students attempt to ride school buses, and normal methods of control fail, eligible students shall be issued bus passes. When passes are issued, no student may ride without a pass. If student identification is required by the driver, the student shall produce his/her identification card upon request by the driver.
O. QUALIFICATIONS FOR DRIVERS
All school bus drivers, including substitute drivers, are required by law to be at least eighteen years of age and to pass an annual physical examination. School bus drivers must have in their possession a valid Pennsylvania opera¬tor’s license, a school bus driver’s license, a certificate of completion of training, and a physician’s certificate of approval. The Act 34 of 1985 (Criminal Record Check), Act 151 of 1994 (Child Abuse Clearance), Act 114 of 2008, Act 24 of 2011, and Act 168 (for all employees hired after December 31, 2014) must be submitted in compliance with state law and school code.
P. RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE DRIVER
1. At all times provide for the safety and welfare of the students assigned to his/her bus.
2. Provide a clean, sanitary, and safe bus for student transportation.
3. Obey traffic laws and driving regulations.
4. Follow the school bus schedule as rigidly as conditions will permit.
5. Be in control of the bus and passengers at all times.
6. Report any of the following to the Bus Contractor’s Office:
a. Any accidents in which the bus is involved.
b. Any complaints from the public not associated with the conduct of students.
c. Any possible hazards encountered.
d. Any causes for failure to operate on schedule.
e. Any recommendations concerning road conditions, routes, or schedules.
7. Shall not permit unauthorized persons, including their own children, to ride the bus.
8. Set a good example of conduct, language, cleanliness, and dress for the students.
9. Shall not smoke on the bus or on school property at any time.
10. Conduct emergency evacuation drills as directed.
11. Enforce the regulations of the Board and administration.
12. Report all infractions involving school bus discipline to the bus contractor’s Representative via the “Bus Misconduct Report.”
13. Report all detectible bus maintenance problems to the bus contractor’s office.
14. Shall not talk or text while driving.
Q. TRANSPORTATION TO BETHLEHEM AREA VOCATIONAL-TECHNICAL SCHOOL
1. It is the responsibility of the School District to provide adequate transportation for students to and from the Bethlehem Area Vocational Technical School located in Bethlehem Township.
2. Students who are attending the Bethlehem Area Vocational Technical School must travel to and from the school on District-operated school buses. Only students with permits provided by the high school administration will be able to drive from their homes to the vocational school and then to the high school or from the high school to the vocational school and then to their homes. All other students must ride the bus. Students with permits will not be allowed to carry passengers with them.
3. Students who attend the morning classes must leave their cars in the high school parking lot and ride the bus to the vocational school. Students in the afternoon classes must ride the bus from the vocational school and return on the bus to pick up their cars to drive home.