C3-Procedures: Transportation

  • arrow Related: See EWSD Transportation Policy

    Section I: Students and Families

    Eligibility

    Eligible Riders are:

    1. Resident students in grades K-12 enrolled in Essex Westford School District schools or enrolled by EWSD in other designated area schools.
    2. Persons authorized by the administration for specific reasons (e.g., chaperones, coaches, aides, monitors, etc.). 

    Students who live within the geographic area historically known as “Essex Town” will be eligible for transport to the following schools: Essex Elementary, Founders Memorial, Essex Middle, Essex High School, Center for Technology, Essex.

    Students who live within the geographic area historically known as “Village of Essex Junction” will be eligible for transport to the following schools: Hiawatha, Summit Street, Thomas Fleming, Albert D. Lawton, Essex High School, Center for Technology, Essex.

    Students who live within the geographic area of Westford Town will be eligible for transport to the following schools: Westford School, Essex High School, Center for Technology, Essex.

    Families may request transportation to an EWSD school outside of their geographic area from the Superintendent. Approval of requests will be at the sole discretion of the Superintendent and may be based on factors such as proximity to an existing route serving the school and available seating. If transportation is granted to an EWSD School outside of their geographic area is granted, it will be only for one year. Families must annually request this exception.

    Tuition Student Transportation

    To maximize available resources by increasing local (tuition) revenues and help maintain sufficient enrollment to ensure the breadth and depth of curricular and extra-curricular offerings, EWSD may provide transportation to/from the towns of sending Districts. 

    1. Transportation may only be provided if the following circumstances exist: The bus route must service at least 25 non-resident students and average a minimum of 20% ridership (using previous three measurement periods). 
    2. If based on paragraph A, transportation must be discontinued, it will not take effect until the following school year. 

    Extra Co-Curricular Transportation

    EWSD staff should request field, activity, and athletic trips from the applicable contractor using the current form. For best results requests should be made at least 2 weeks in advance. The contractor may not be able to accommodate all requests based on trip volume and driver availability. For assistance including estimating trip costs, or alternatives if a contractor does not have availability, contact the Transportation Manager.

    School must provide an authorized coach, chaperone, or staff to ride on all trips to assist in regulating student behavior norms, including keeping the bus free of trash. Exceptions may only be made by mutual agreement, in advance, of the coach/activity advisor and contractor for intra-district trips.

    Students are required to ride the bus to/from all events for which the school provides transportation. Exceptions for alternative transportation must be requested in writing by the student’s parent/guardian and must be approved by the athletics/activities director or coach/advisor in advance. Only a responsible adult may provide transportation. Under no circumstances will a student be permitted to ride with another student, or drive him/herself to an event. While on the bus, students are expected to adhere to the rules of the bus driver and bus company and to pick up all trash before exiting the bus. School rules are in effect during all transportation times.

    Specialized Transportation

    The Transportation Department will provide service in a manner that promotes efficiency and effectiveness while ensuring services are consistent with the least restrictive environment considerations for students who have transportation listed as a related service in their IEP.

    Pickup and Dropoff locations:

    • Generally, special needs students riding regular route buses will not have transportation listed as a related service and, therefore, will be provided stop-to-school and school-to-stop service.
    • Drivers and assistants will not escort students between their front door, bus, and classroom unless specifically outlined in the IEP.
    • District buses and contractors will not travel into private driveways.
    • In circumstances where the nature or condition of a street make it inaccessible to a bus, arranging an alternate pick up / drop off point may be necessary, and will be coordinated with the family by the dispatcher or Transportation Manager.

    Pickup and Dropoff Times: 

    • The District will create bus schedules and communicate with families regarding pickup and dropoff times prior to the start of the school year.
    • If modifications are necessary throughout the year, the dispatcher will notify the family via the primary phone # and up to one alternate number no later than 2:30 pm the school day before the change.
    • Students should be ready to board the bus within a “window” 10 minutes before their scheduled pickup time and be prepared to wait as much as 15 minutes after the scheduled time.
    • When it appears that the bus will be delayed by more than 15 minutes, the district will send an automated call to the designated parent and emergency phone numbers for students by bus route notifying them of the delay, and a reason if it’s known.
    • If a bus arrives within the “window” of ten minutes before or fifteen minutes after the scheduled time and the student does not board immediately, the driver will contact dispatch via radio. The Dispatcher will call the primary contact number listed for the student and leave a message if possible stating the date and time. The vehicle may depart for its next stop after waiting a minimum of three minutes.
    • For students who require a family member to be home at drop-off, these same procedures will be followed. If an approved caregiver is not home to receive the student, they will remain on the bus, and be returned to EWSD staff at the school to be picked up by parents. Drivers will not leave the student at the school unattended. The dispatcher will contact the school staff and family to notify them.

    Securements

    • The safest place for any student on a bus is in the seat. If it is possible for a student to transfer to the seat, it is recommended that they do so. Seatbelts, 5-point harnesses, and other safety restraint systems can be used here. 
    • WC-19 is a voluntary industry standard for designing, testing, and labeling a wheelchair used as a seat in a motor vehicle certified as “transit-ready”. It is highly recommended that if it is necessary for a student to ride in a mobility device on the bus, that device be WC19 compliant.
    • EWSD Aides will perform all wheelchair securements utilizing a minimum of four points secured to the floor of the vehicle, and the lap belt and shoulder restraint securing to the vehicle.
    • The lap belt or harness of a mobility device shall not be considered to be sufficient unless specified in the student’s IEP.  

    Bus Aides

    • Will be assigned to bus routes as defined by IEPS as follows :
      • When specifically required by the student's IEP.
      • As a guideline, when five students requiring equipment are riding the bus at one time. This may be adjusted at the Supervisor's discretion based on safety and student needs.
      • It is preferred that Bus Aides be assigned to all buses transporting students in wheelchairs. However, this is not a requirement and assignments may or may not be made at the Supervisor's discretion based on safety, student need, and budget limitations.

    Student Information

    • The Transportation Department will develop an information sheet to collect critical information from Case Managers to support administrators, bus drivers, and bus aides in the provision of services to special needs students. This information will be kept confidential.

    Cameras and Video Recordings

    Buses equipped with video cameras are to ensure that EWSD has access to objective and real-time evidence related to student behavior and/or motorists violating the school bus red light system. Parents will not be allowed to view video recordings based on federal student privacy laws. EWSD will not share video recordings with any outside parties not directly involved in the transport or care of students, excepting law enforcement. EWSD reserves the right to request parent permission in order to use specific videos for training purposes. 

    Student Conduct

    The goal of the Transportation Department is to create a behavior management system that integrates with and mutually supports behavior management and socio-emotional learning in the classrooms while providing students with a consistent set of behavior norms on the bus throughout their entire EWSD career.

    For student conduct, the bus is an extension of the classroom. Drivers and bus aides are the leaders on the bus, and play an important role modeling and reinforcing behavior norms. EWSD provides in-person behavior management training to all transportation contractors and employees who work on buses. 

    Bus rules (or community behavior norms) will be posted by the driver prior to the first student transport of the year. Drivers will take time during the first week of school to explain bus rules to all students and remind them periodically throughout the year. This is particularly helpful when approaching vacations and seasonal changes. Recognizing and praising good behavior is always a good strategy, and the District will provide a rewards-based system to assist drivers.

    The Transportation Department will also make available to each Principal activities which teach and reinforce bus behavior norms at different grade levels.

    Disciplinary Procedure

    The District is responsible for monitoring student behavior while students are on the bus. Students are expected to keep themselves and others safe, to respect other students and to respect the transportation equipment. Students who do not follow the rules on the bus will be subject to disciplinary action. This includes, but is not limited to: striking another student; throwing objects; damaging bus seats, putting arms or head out of bus window, inappropriate/disrespectful language, standing in or blocking the aisles, or failure to comply with the bus driver’s directions. Parents and/or students will be liable for costs resulting from actions that cause damage.

    A Prevention-Intervention-Consequences model is used for behavior management. Prevention is the driver making students aware of the rules. Intervention is used by the driver or bus aide to reinforce rules and norms when they are broken. Examples of this could be stopping the bus, or having a student change seats. If students continue to break the rules, or if the behavior is severe enough, drivers or bus aides will complete a Bus Conduct Report and submit it to school administrators, who will work with the student and may assign the student Consequences. School administrators may contact families to support this process. Depending on the severity or number of infractions, transportation privileges may be suspended for a short period of time or for the remainder of the year. Parents are responsible for arranging alternate transportation for their child if this occurs. We ask parents/guardians to cooperate with the school when informed of a problem.

    The Transportation Department will facilitate the timely exchange of bus conduct reports and follow-up communication between drivers, contractors, and school behavior management staff. The Transportation Department will maintain archives of bus conduct reports.

    Student Seating Assignments

    All students Kindergarten-grade 5 will be assigned a seat by the bus driver. These assignments will be posted by the driver in the bus within the first 2 weeks of school. Students, families, and school staff may provide input on seating assignments for driver consideration. 

    Seat assignments for grades 6-12 are used on an as-needed basis determined by school administrators and drivers.

    School administrators may request specific seating arrangements in response to disciplinary issues. Drivers will work within these requests to determine seating plans, keeping in mind there may be requests from multiple schools to manage.

    Ridership Guidelines

    • Students should be at their bus stop 5 minutes before the scheduled arrival time. The bus is not required to wait for students.
    • Please understand the first days of school, traffic, weather, or other circumstances could cause delays.
    • When it appears that the bus will be delayed by more than 15 minutes, the District will send an automated call to the designated parent and emergency phone numbers for students by bus route notifying them of the delay, and a reason if it’s known.
    • Students should dress for the weather.
    • Select a spot to wait for the bus where your child can see the bus coming and be seen by the Driver. 
    • In low light, it’s helpful for students to have reflective clothing or signal the driver with a lighted device like a flashlight, blinker, or illuminated handheld electronic device.
    • Students are accountable for their behavior while going to and from bus stops and while they are waiting for the bus. Parents are expected to handle any behavior difficulties which may be encountered at bus stops. Thank you to the parents, neighbors and older siblings who wait at bus stops and help keep students safe at bus stops.

    Alternate Stops

    Permission slips from parents and approval from the school are required for any changes to normal drop-off/pick-up points. Please send written notice to the front office staff (Secretary, Admin Assistant, or Registrar) at your school.

    To arrange routine alternative transportation (for example, parents wish to provide transportation, or there is an alternate caregiver a student takes the bus to on M-W-F), families may complete the Alternate pickup/dropoff survey distributed in June. A link to this survey will also be placed on the District’s transportation webpage. The District can accommodate no more than three alternate locations per student.

    Permanent address changes should be coordinated through front office staff (Secretary, Admin Assistant, or Registrar) at your school. These staff will update the student information database, and coordinate with the Transportation Department on any busing needs.

    Pickup and Dropoff for Kindergarten and First Grade

    Kindergartners & First Graders must be accompanied to and picked up from the bus stop by a parent or guardian, or another individual authorized in writing. If an authorized individual is NOT present for a drop-off, Kindergartners and First Graders will remain on the bus, and be returned to EWSD staff at the school to be picked up by parents. Families will be notified via phone call. Drivers will not leave the student at the school unattended. Older siblings will remain with the Kindergartener or First Grader.

    Safety tips for parents from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:

    • Safety Starts at the Bus Stop. Visit the bus stop and show your child where to wait for the bus: at least three giant steps (6 feet) away from the curb. Remind your child that the bus stop is not a place to run or play.
    • Get On and Off Safely. When the school bus arrives, your child should wait until the bus comes to a complete stop, the door opens, and the driver says it’s okay before approaching the bus door. Your child should use the handrails to avoid falling.
    • Use Caution Around the Bus. Your child should never walk behind a school bus. If your child must cross the street in front of the bus, tell him/her to walk on a sidewalk or along the side of the street to a place at least five giant steps (10 feet) in front of the bus before crossing. Your child should also make eye contact with the bus driver before crossing to make sure the driver can see him/her. If your child drops something near the school bus, like a ball or book, the safest thing is for your child to tell the bus driver right away. Your child should not try to pick up the item, because the driver might not be able to see him/her.

    Section II: System Design

    Establishment of Walking Zones, Routes, and Stops

    In June, the District will survey families regarding transportation for the next school year. This survey will allow parents to designate up to three (3) alternate locations for pickup or dropoff on regularly scheduled weekdays, and allow families to opt a student out of transportation entirely. If a student has been opted out and needs transportation later in the year, they can request transportation by contacting the Transportation Department. Please note that it may take up to 2 weeks to add student transportation.

    The District will modify and develop bus routes with Contractors through the summer. Draft routes will be shared ahead of time with school Principals and Municipal partners as part of this process. Walking zone and bus route information will be published on the District and school websites no later than August 10th of each year. Parents will also be notified via email and phone call when bus routes are available. A notice and link to route information will be placed on the District website.

    The District’s preference is bus routes which utilize publicly maintained roadways.

    Because students in grades K-5 are still developing the motor, cognitive, and behavioral skills to make consistent, safe traveling decisions, the District’s preference is same-side drop-off and pick-up for these students. If the design of a route also allows an opposite-side stop option, Parents or Guardians who desire their students to cross the road (e.g. for timing or other reasons) must request it in writing. It is highly recommended to families that these stops be supervised by a responsible adult.

    Route adjustments may be necessary during the school year. In recognition that changing busing schedules has a ripple effect across our entire community, the District will strive to make a single adjustment, only if necessary, in October.

    Notification of route or stop changes after the initial August posting will be e-mailed to affected families and posted as an update on the District and school website. 

    Resource Planning

    Per Administrative Responsibility #6 of the EWSD Transportation Policy, procedures identifying and prioritizing how services may be modified and/or reduced if resources (e.g., drivers or buses) are insufficient to provide the intended level of transportation services: 

    Tier 1

    • Pursue additional transportation resources through agreements with municipal partners and public transportation.
    • Operate system as K-12 routes, prioritizing lowest grade level bell time dropoffs/pickups.
    • Expand/Adjust walk-to-school zones (with necessary crossing guard additions)
    • Increase the length and duration of routes

    Tier 2

    • Increase the walking distance to stops, 
    • Increase zones to be served by public transportation

    Tier 3

    • Reduce transportation provided for tuition students which can be reallocated to serve resident students
    • Reduce non-home-to-school transportation to free up assets (i.e. driver, buses)
    • Require opt-in for transportation, thresholds based on grade level & distance from schools

    Tier 4

    • Reduce transportation provided to resident high school students
    • Reduce transportation provided to other resident students at other schools and grade levels

    Crossing Guards

    On an annual basis the District will evaluate and adjust crossing guard placement. The following is a non-exhaustive list of factors, in no particular order:

    • Number of crossing guards available
    • School walking zones
    • Number of students
    • Volume of traffic
    • Presence and type of crossing signal, or lack thereof (e.g. traffic light, pedestrian signal, audible crossing signal, high-intensity flashing crosswalk warning)
    • Alternate paths
    • Location of bus routes & stops

    Time and Distance Guidelines

    In accordance with Transportation Policy C3, administration establishes the following time and distance guidelines for travel to and from school. Resources permitting, the District will strive to meet these guidelines for every student. Efficiency and safety are both considerations, and this does mean students may have to walk to a designated intersection to help all students arrive at school on time. This procedure establishes guidelines only. This procedure should not be interpreted as an absolute maximum by District staff or any other stakeholder.

    Grade 

    Level

    Walk to School Maximum +/- *

    Walk to Stop Maximum +/- **

    Earliest AM arrival

    Maximum 

    wait for PM bus

    Maximum 

    ride time

    K-5

    0.5 mile path

    0.5 mile path

    30 minutes prior to start

    15 minutes after end of day 

    50 minutes

    6-8

    1.0 mile path

    0.5 mile path

    45 minutes prior to start

    20 minutes after end of day 

    50 minutes

    9-12

    1.5 mile path

    0.75 mile path

    60 minutes prior to start

    60 minutes after end of day 

    90 minutes


    *Each school will have an established walking zone. If safe pedestrian travel is possible, students living within the walking zone will NOT be eligible for transportation.

    **Outside of the walking zones, door-to-door transport will only be available where pedestrian travel is too dangerous; otherwise designated stops will be used.

    School Bell Time Management

    School times are a critical consideration in the safety, efficiency, and effectiveness of the Transportation Department. The department appreciates that school times have implications well beyond just transportation services and any change can be highly disruptive to parents, staff, and the public. Therefore, it is in the intent of the department to support a process that defines a timeline for consideration of any school time changes that will allow for sufficient time to analyze any potential changes and communicate any changes to all internal and external stakeholders.

    Annual review of school times to support efficiency and effectiveness will be performed by the department to ensure EWSD is supporting the district’s instructional mission fully and managing its resources effectively. Any consideration of a time frame will be developed in consideration of the school calendar. This will include:

    • The Transportation Department will provide recommendations to the Superintendent on school bell time changes in February.
    • If the administration determines further review of a change in bell times is warranted:
      • Transportation Department will model proposed routing and cost changes by March 31 of the year prior to implementation.
      • The administration will review, including any public comment, the proposed changes along with any cost impacts during April of the year prior to implementation.
      • A final determination of any change to school times will be made, to the extent feasible, by May 31 of the school year prior to implementation. This will support the ability of the school district and Transportation Department to communicate potential changes to internal and external stakeholders. This will also allow the department to ensure that any revisions necessary to reflect changes to enrollment or physical infrastructure prior to school start.

    Section III: Records, Contracts, & Reporting

    Student Privacy & Confidentiality

    EWSD staff shall be responsible for communicating route and schedule information to families in accordance with the EWSD Student Privacy Policy and in compliance with legal requirements.

    School bus contractors shall have procedures in place to ensure that personally identifiable and sensitive student information are not improperly released. The contractor shall submit these procedures to the District for review and assessment by August 1st of each year. In the absence of established and validated procedures, the contractor shall adopt procedures developed by EWSD.

    Required Records

    The Transportation Manager will maintain the following for all EWSD and CTE employed drivers, vehicles, and routes:

    Drivers:

    • Drug and Alcohol program records
    • Copies of DOT physicals
    • Copy of current driver's license, front and back
    • Initial 3-year driving record, all subsequent re-checks
    • Records of vehicle pre-trip inspections
    • Commendations and complaints
    • Accident Records

    Vehicles:

    • Records of vehicle pre-trip inspections
    • Accident Records

    Routes:

    • Documentation indicating all students are participating in emergency evacuations twice a year

    The Transportation Department will coordinate with District Human Resources and Technology staff to establish a secure mechanism to acquire, access, and store the necessary information.

    Contracts and Purchasing 

    The Transportation Department will follow all EWSD purchasing and procurement policies and procedures. Whenever the Transportation Department enters into a new school bus service contract of any type, a record of that contract and all subsequent addendums shall be centrally maintained within the Transportation Department administration office. Each record will be updated based on the following timeline; such records will minimally include, but will not be limited, to the following documents:

    1. A digital copy of the original RFP Notice, RFP, Addendums, and Notices pertaining to RFP related events, meetings, consultations, and other, on an annual basis.
    2. A print copy of the original RFP, Addendums, RFP related notices, RFP evaluation documents (score sheets, notes, etc.), a scoring matrix with final tally results, and documents relating to contract award and a notice of contract award: when the RFP is awarded.
    3. A digital copy of the fully executed contract agreement(s): when the contract begins.
    4. A print copy of the fully executed contract agreement(s): when the contract begins.
    5. Printed copies of contract modifications: when the modification occurs.
    6. Printed copies of supplemental agreements: when agreement occurs.
    7. Printed copies of Contract Terminations and/or Extensions: when termination/extension occurs.
    8. Printed copies of other important contract related correspondences: when action occurs.

    EWSD contract files shall be maintained by the Transportation Manager. Such local records will include all of the above documents plus:

    1. Printed copies of executed Notifications of District Transportation Requirements 
    2. Printed copies of annual approved School Year calendars
    3. Important contract-related local correspondences
    4. Route plan files
    5. Letters of commendation

    The Transportation Department shall maintain full and complete hard copy files of expired and terminated school bus contracts (with all enclosures) for a period of seven fiscal years following the end of the contract period in a manner that is consistent with VT Agency of Education policy requirements.

    Once the seven-year or longer archive period is over, the Transportation Department shall dispense the archived contract file in a manner consistent with other EWSD policies.

    Vehicle Acquisition and Inspection Management

    Vehicles are required to be inspected once a year. All District vehicles should go through inspection during June-July to give Districts enough time to make any necessary updates or fixes before school starts.

    Upon successful inspection, the inspection certificate will be stored on the vehicle. EWSD will also store scanned copies of certificates or vehicle folders for easy reference.

    Vermont school buses are subject to random inspections throughout the school year to ensure vehicles remain safe. This reinforces the need for EWSD to properly store certification/licenses and keep all documents up to date. 

    As part of the documentation process for each vehicle in EWSD’s fleet, the following will be included:

    • Manufacturer's Certificate of Origin (if purchased out-of-state)
    • Bill of Sale and Odometer disclosure statement
    • Purchase and use tax

    Performance Reporting

    • The Transportation Department will maintain a log detailing complaints received and completed follow-up with complainants.
    • The Transportation Department will maintain an accident log, and files comprised of reporting information from contractors and self-performed transportation.
    • The Transportation Department will maintain a log detailing compliments received.
    • The Transportation Department will maintain records of behavior referrals by school and route.

    Annual Report

    In accordance with Policy C3, the Transportation Manager shall supply the following information annually to the Superintendent by August 1:

    • Average number of daily students transported based on available ridership surveys for the current year
    • Cost of transportation for the year

    In accordance with Policy C3, the Transportation Manager shall prepare an annual report as to the performance of the transportation system including:

    • Number of routes operated
    • Average number of daily students transported based on available ridership surveys for the current year
    • Cost of transportation for the year
    • Cost per pupil transported
    • Number of accidents, number with injury
    • Number of accidents broken down by: 
      • Contracted
      • Self-performed
      • Preventable
      • Non-preventable
    • Number of founded and unfounded complaints received broken into the following categories:
      • Late
      • Early
      • Driving
      • Customer Service
      • Missed Stop
      • System
    • Number of Compliments
    • Number of behavior reports (bus conduct reports), broken down by school and route
    • Vehicle breakdowns / road calls (resulting in 15 minute + delay)
    • Routes delayed 15+ minutes, broken down by Weather, mechanical, Other (Traffic, accident, oversleeping driver)
    • Cancellations / Modifications due to weather (Snow Days, Delays, Mud Season)

    Ridership Data

    The Transportation Department will conduct ridership surveys a minimum of 3 times per year (fall, winter, and spring) to identify:

    • number of passengers by school on each route
    • percentage of eligible students who ride
    • On-time performance of routes

    Each survey will be for a minimum of 10 school days.


    Section IV: Safety & Training

    Transportation Staff Training

    Mandatory training for all EWSD and contracted employees will be conducted a minimum of twice per year, once prior to the start of the school year in August, and again in January. 

    EWSD Employees are subject to EWSD mandatory employee training, including, but not limited to Bullying, Confidentiality, Harassment, Mandatory Reporting, and Bloodborne Pathogens.

    Driver Training

    All EWSD drivers will receive the following training before entering service. 

    • Defensive Driving training
    • Inclement Weather driving
    • Idling

    EWSD will provide refresher training every two years for returning drivers.

    Safety Program

    EWSD recognizes a robust safety program is essential to preventing and responding to emergencies and providing quality transportation services to our families.

    Safe Routes to School

    Over time, it is the Transportation Department’s goal to achieve Platinum Status in the

    Vermont Safe Routes to School Partner Program, which is a member of the National SRTS programs.

    The Transportation Department will make efforts to engage and partner with our federal, state, and local governments, PTO, contractors, law enforcement, walk/bike advocacy groups, local business, and media on initiatives and infrastructure that promote safe walking, biking, busing, and private vehicle driving to and from school.

    It is important for the EWSD community to recognize Safe Routes to School aren’t just about teaching our students safe practices, or training bus drivers. The most important element is people in passenger cars being aware and driving with caution.

    Employee-Based Measures

    Each bus route, and school not served by regular school bus routes shall conduct bus evacuation drills twice per year: once in September and once in April. Drills will be scheduled and documented by the Transportation Department. Drills will be conducted by Drivers.

    Drivers will report red-light violations immediately to dispatch via radio, providing as much information as possible: Location, plate #, Make, model and color of vehicle, and description of the driver. Video recordings, when available, will be shared with law enforcement. 

    EWSD Self-Performed Accident Procedures

    The District will follow internal accident procedures. Families will be notified in the event their student is involved in an accident. 

    Vehicle-Based Measures

    EWSD shall require all new school buses serving EWSD (self-performed and contracted) to be equipped with stop-arm camera systems capable of providing video and still images at high enough resolution to determine license plate numbers. These buses will also be equipped with a bumper sticker notifying motorists of video system and the penalties (5 points, $1197 fine) for running red lights. Videos of red-light violations will be forwarded to law enforcement. EWSD will work proactively with our community partners to raise awareness, hold violators accountable, and reduce school bus stop light violations.

    Family-Based Measures

    Parents who are visiting the school or dropping off or picking up children should park in designated areas and drive safely at all times, especially in the parking lot where there is considerable pedestrian traffic.

    Drivers should obey Vermont’s Idling law at all times which states that engines must be turned off when a vehicle is waiting or parked on school grounds.

    Tips for safe walking, biking, and driving:

    Families are encouraged to review these tips prior to the start of school, and whenever transportation routines change e.g. due to weather, sports, or work schedules. 

    Vermont Walk and Bike Laws: Walk & Bike Laws Link

    District/School-Based Measures

    Many schools already have some of the following elements in place, led by Principals. Arriving at full “safe routes to school” implementation will be a multi-year process of expanding and further developing current initiatives into a cohesive “transportation experience” for students as they move through all grade levels and schools.

    • Participate in National Safe Routes To School Program, pursue federal funding for program and infrastructure improvements
    • Participate in National Walk to School day in October and Bike to School Day in May
    • Educational events prior to start of school, “how-to” and safety tips for each specific mode of travel (Walk, Bike, Bus, Driving) including:
      • Review established routes, dressing for the elements, making yourself visible, interacting with all types of traffic, giveaways for all students or students in free/reduced programs.
      • Biking:  Bike helmet fitting / handout, blinker handout
      • Walking: yaktrax handout, blinker handout
      • Bus: Yaktrax handout, Blinker handout, mobile app training (if app is available), bus rules review, meet your bus driver, evacuation procedures review 
      • Public transportation: mobile app familiarization (if app is available), passenger code of conduct, facts about public transit safety (cameras, police response, incident stats in last 5 years, inclement weather stop instructions) 
    • Family information sessions and tabling at start of school and community events (e.g. open houses, parent-teacher conference days, etc)
    • Student awareness and education events as travel patterns change due to sports and weather (e.g. winter travel, spring walk and bike sessions).
    • Establishment of “walking bus route” and “biking bus routes” led by adult volunteers and/or grade 8-12 student “Transportation Captains” who have completed a training including:
      • Route training
      • Safe walking and biking practices
      • Helmet use
      • Identification of hazards
      • Hazard reporting
      • Ridership reporting 

    Spring rite of passage initiating new “Captains” who get their safety vest/flag and take over under the mentorship of outgoing captains - carry the flag into the next school year.

    • Walking and Biking “bus” routes participate in ridership surveys
    • Funding partnerships for improved infrastructure (e.g. high-intensity flashing crosswalk warnings, bike racks, bus shelters)

    Section V: Transportation Policies

    Policy Code C3: Transportation 

    First Reading: November 6, 2018

    Second Reading: November 27, 2018

    Adopted:   December 18, 2018

    This policy will go into effect on July 1, 2019

    Introduction

    Resident Students

    Where it is reasonable and necessary to enable a student entitled or required to attend an elementary or a secondary school within the Essex Westford Educational Community Unified Union School District (EWSD), the School District will furnish transportation to and from school on public roads to students, particularly our youngest and most vulnerable, who do not reside within the designated walking zones. Except where mandated by federal and state law, the provision of transportation is a privilege and it is not required or mandated for most students. 

    Transportation to and from school will be provided for students receiving services under an Individual Education Plan (IEP) or a 504 plan for the student when such transportation is necessary to provide a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE).

    Non-resident Students

    The administration will develop tuition student transportation procedures establishing the circumstances in which non-residents may be transported. 

    The Center for Technology, Essex (CTE) may provide transportation to its students. The Superintendent or their designee will develop procedures for CTE transportation in consultation with the CTE Director. 

    Extracurricular Activities Transportation

    The EWSD is also committed to providing full or partial transportation for approved field trips and for approved extracurricular activities, such as athletic events, as availability and budget constraints allow. 

    Supporting School Access and the Wellbeing of Our Community

    The EWSD is committed to access to education for its students. Safe travel to and from school is an integral part of that access. Where possible, the district wishes to encourage wellness for students, staff, and the community by supporting safe pedestrian and bicycle travel and public transit utilization. 

    The district will advocate for improved safety of travel conditions for pedestrians and bicyclists throughout the district.

    Standards of conduct and disciplinary consequences for students are the same during travel to and from school via the district’s transportation system as they are during the school day, as detailed in Policy C20: Student Conduct and Discipline and the student handbook. Violation of these rules may result in the student’s loss of transportation privileges.

    Administrative Responsibilities

    The Superintendent or their designee will:

    1. Establish walking zones to school for each grade level, designating a distance that students will be expected to walk, subject to safe travel conditions.

    2. Provide crossing guards as deemed necessary.

    3. Determine projected bus ridership for portions of the district outside the walking zones for each school on an annual basis.

    4. Identify stops and routes after considering both the safety of children and the efficiency of operation. Upon establishing which riders can be served safely with public transportation and with congregated bus stops, they will establish maximum walking distances to the public transit routes and to the district congregated stops.

      Following consultation with any district vendors and service providers involved in the district’s transportation system, the Superintendent or designee will consider the following factors (non-exclusive list, in no particular order) when establishing routes and stops:
    • Age and maturity of students transported.
    • Presence or absence of sidewalks or paths off the highway.
    • Width, condition, and class of highways, including curves, hills, intersections, turnarounds, and seasonal road conditions.
    • Density and speed of traffic.
    • Proximity of dwellings, factories, or industrial areas.
    • Ability of any congregated stop location to safely accommodate the assigned students.
    • Health or physical impairment of students being transported.
    • Distance traveled on a single route, and the length of time spent on a bus by any given student going to or returning from school.

    The Superintendent or designee may consider other factors they deem appropriate when establishing routes and designated stops.

    1. Prepare bus schedules indicating time and designated bus routes for the entire district annually and provide them to families in August. The Board empowers the Superintendent or her/his designee to make changes to any bus route at any time in order to meet current needs. Such changes, however, require notification to the parents/guardians of affected students. Every effort will be made to notify at least three days before any change takes effect.
    2. Develop procedures identifying and prioritizing how services may be modified and/or reduced if resources (e.g., drivers or buses) are insufficient to provide the intended level of transportation services.
    3. Submit to the School Board for approval of any contracts, leases, or purchases over $15,000 necessary to maintain and operate transportation equipment.
    4. Include in his or her annual report to the board information as to all pupils transported by the school district and the expense thereof. 
    5. Provide an annual report to the board as to the performance of the transportation system.

    Legal References:

    • 16 V.S.A. §§1222, 1224 (Student transportation)
    • 16 V.S.A. § 11 (a)(32)(C)
    • 16 V.S.A. § 1162 (a)
    • 16 V.S.A. §1551

    Policy Code B4: Drug & Alcohol Testing of Transportation Employees 

    First Reading: November 1, 2016, 

    Adopted: November 15, 2016

     

    Policy

    The Essex Westford School District will comply with state and federal law and regulations requiring a drug and alcohol testing program for school bus and commercial vehicle drivers. The superintendent or designee will implement procedures to conduct alcohol and drug tests for all safety-sensitive transportation employees as required by the federal Omnibus Transportation Employee Testing Act of 1991. 

    The Essex Westford School District (referred to hereafter as EWSD or the District) Drug & Alcohol Testing

    Program for Transportation Employees (hereafter referred to as the program or program) consists of

    Policy B4 and its related procedures and attachments.

    The program complies with 49 CFR Part 382, as amended, and 49 CFR Part 40, as amended. 

    Legal Reference(s):

    • 49 U.S.C. § 5331, 31306 (Omnibus Transportation Employee Testing Act of 1991)
    • 49 C.F.R. Parts 40, 382, 391, 392, 395 
    • 21 V.S.A. 511 et seq.

    download arrow Related: Printable District Transportation Procedures (PDF, opens in a new window)