District reviews bus trial run at Wilson Focus

Posted at 12:10 PM, Jul 27, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-27 13:10:01-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) - First day school jitters are something kids have when returning to school.


At Wilson Focus Elementary, Omaha Public Schools officials and its bussing contractor have them too.


The year-round school returned back from summer break Thursday where district leaders used the site as a trial run for its new bus plan.


One by one, 13 busses pulled up curbside between 7:20 a.m. and 7:45 a.m. – just in time for students to grab a quick breakfast before the 8 a.m. start time.


"I think you guys saw a small clipping of what we expect for the upcoming school year,” said David Prince, vice president of operations at Student Transportation of America.


The goal? Have busses running on schedule to get kids to and from school on time.




Last year, the district's handling of several gaffes earned them a low grade from many parents with some claiming bus drivers failed to pick up and drop off kids on time – or show up at all.


The elementary’s earlier start date is a soft launch of what the district plans to roll out next month with STA.


"We want consistency,” Prince says. “We want to make sure that students see the same driver on an everyday basis.”


The changes could impact many.


After modifying student assignment plans, the district approved the consolidation of some routes – meaning there will be more kids on a bus while dealing with earlier pickups and later drop offs.


There are 330 bus routes for the start of the 2017-2018 school year, Prince says, whereas last year had 476.


The district believes this would make the transportation system run more efficient.


For example, Wilson Focus’ routes dipped by three from 16 last year.


Whether parents are onboard with the changes depends on what they will see on their transportation letters, which should be sent out between late July and early August, according to Monique Farmer, a spokeswoman for the district.


While at Wilson Focus, Prince also laid out a tentative schedule of what STA is doing to get drivers prepared:


Aug. 4th – drivers will be assigned their routes

Aug. 8th – drivers will review route

Aug. 9th – drivers will do a trial run of the route.


Drivers will have to wait at least a minute at each stop to account for the load count because of route reduction and change in walk zone, Prince says.


Also joining Prince at the school is the district’s Operation Supervisor Traci Shobe.


Both say they drop offs went smooth and are feeling “confident.”


But the district will need a repeat of Thursday to see if their plan makes the grade come Aug. 17 when school resumes.


To contact STA, call (531) 299-0140.


For more information on student transportation, click here.