New School Hours Part of Revamped Transportation Plan
Several routes eliminated as more state funding cuts loom.
Students at Oswego School District 308 elementary schools will start and end school either 10 minutes earlier or 10 minutes later next year.
Staggering the start times at the schools is part of the district’s revamped 2012-13 transportation plan, which was unanimously approved by the board Monday night. The plan should save the district about $575,000 in its first year.
The changes come as the state of Illinois contemplates changing the funding formula for how it reimburses local school districts for transportation costs. That change, which would be based on the number of students and miles driven, could mean the district will see about $700,000 less from the state on top about $5 million in cuts that have come in recent years.
Angie Smith, the district’s director of businesses services who oversees transportation, presented the board with her final plan Monday. Apart from the new start times at the elementary school and moving the start time for the high schools ahead 10 minutes, the district will outfit its buses with GPS devices, purchase four 14-passenger activity buses to more efficiently transport small groups of students for activities and cut several routes altogether.
Students that live within 1.5 milies of a their school who will no longer have a bus option include:
- Students who cross Hafenrichter Road to attend Homestead Elementary
- Students who cross Fifth street to attend Churchill Elementary and Plank Junior High
- Students who cross Wooley Road to attend Traughber Junior High
- Students who reside in Morgan’s Crossing and Deerpath Trails attending Prairie Point Elementary
- Students who reside in Amber Fields North attending the Wheatlands Elementary
- Students who reside within Lakewood Valley and Amber Fields attending Wolf’s Crossing Elementary and Bednarcik Junior High
- Majority of students in Grande Park (proper)
- Students attending Grande Park Elementary crossing over Ridge Road bridge
- Majority of Hunt Club
- Some areas in Boulder Hill attending Thompson Junior High
In most cases, elimination of the bus service will include the addition of crossing guards, cross walks and local traffic control devices to provide a safe route to school, Smith said. In addition, the Oswegoland Park District also has agreed to plow several of its walking paths during winter months to help students who were once bused but now will walk.
Along with the route elimination, the district will also outfit its buses with GPS devices. Though the district will spend $125,000 to begin the program, Smith estimated the units could save the district about $250,000 annually.
Though improved driver efficiency is the main goal of installing the units, Smith said they will also be able to provide parents with real-time updates as to a bus’ location, the bus’ speed, monitor pickup and drop-off times and give the district the ability to track ridership numbers.
Board member Laurie Pasteris asked whether busing students across the district to the all-day kindergarten center at East View Elementary or to Hunt Club Elementary for the Dual Language program were fees that could be passed on to parents.
“These are not mandated programs,” she said. "... To me, it’s like the elephant in the room.”
Smith said the all-day kindergarten program actually makes the district about $1.1 million annually. That money comes mostly in the form of state reimbursement. She also said that English Language Learners, which make up a large portion of the Dual Language student population, ultimately would need to be bused somewhere in the district.
Smith said she expects some negative reaction from parents and has heard from a handful of Homestead parents with safety concerns. Board member Mike Scaramuzzi said parents would be wise to direct their anger toward the state, which is imposing the continued transportation cuts.
Editor's note: This story has been updated to more accurately reflect the source of revenue of the distirct's all-day kindergarten program.