The Transportation Department at Francis Howell School District is responsible for safely transporting more than 10,000 students to and from school each day. Our team of bus drivers, bus monitors, dispatchers, mechanics and operations managers work together to improve the efficiency of our bus routes. Each school year, we get closer to our goal of receiving the state's highest efficiency rating, which will maximize our state funding for transportation.
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- Frequently Asked Questions - Bus Transportation Changes 2023-24 School Year
- Locate Your Bus Route
- Bus Route Information
- Alternate Transportation
- Bus Safety, Guidelines, and Behavior Expectations
- Frequently Asked Questions
What changes will be implemented for the 2023-24 school year?
To mitigate the critical shortage of bus drivers, reduce costs and improve efficiency, the Board approved the following changes to bus transportation, beginning with the 2023-24 school year:
- Implement a one-mile walk boundary for students in grades 6-12. Students who live within this one-mile boundary will not be eligible for bus transportation unless required by Individualized Education Plan, or road safety concerns as identified by the FHSD Transportation Department.
- Consolidate neighborhood bus stops, average walk distance of two-tenths of a mile for students in grades K-5, and four-tenths of a mile for students in grades 6-12.
- Adjust bell times of some schools to allow for the combination of middle school and high school bus routes as necessary. Schools that will have time changes for 2023-24 are shown in the table below.
Why are these changes necessary?
A lack of bus drivers is the primary reason for these changes. FHSD - like many neighboring districts - is experiencing bus driver shortages that are impacting our ability to transport students in a timely and reliable manner. On any given day, we average between 30 and 40 unfilled bus routes. These routes must be covered by other transportation staff, or in some cases, bus drivers are completing their assigned route, then returning to the school to pick up another group of students. Some buses are dropping students off at home up to 30 - 45 minutes late.
These inconsistencies make it difficult for families to plan appropriately. In addition, more than 40% of FHSD bus drivers will be eligible for retirement at the end of next school year, so the staffing shortage may actually become more severe in the future. There are also financial impacts to the way we’re currently operating. Because we are not operating at the target transportation efficiency rating, the District receives less state funding. So, for both staffing reasons and budget reasons, the District must make changes to bus transportation.
Did you ask parents or staff what they think?
Yes. The District hosted a Transportation Roundtable event in February that was open to all community members. Following the Roundtable, a survey was sent to all FHSD staff, parents and residents on the District email list. We received about 700 survey responses and feedback from both the survey and Roundtable was considered in shaping the recommendations presented to the Board at the March 30 work session.
Which schools are impacted by the bell times changes?
Start and end times of six schools plus the early childhood centers will be adjusted for the 2023-24 school year and beyond. View the bell time changes.
When did the Board approve these changes?
The Board approved the changes at the April 20, 2023 Board meeting.
How is the 1-mile walk boundary calculated? Is it a radius from the school or driving distance using actual roads traveled?
The 1-mile walk boundary is based on the actual driving distance or walking paths between the student's school and home.
How far will students have to walk to their new consolidated bus stop?
Elementary students will walk up to 2/10 of a mile. Middle and high school students will walk up to 4/10 of a mile (unless they live within the 1-mile walk boundary and in that case, they will walk up to one mile to school).
When will families find out where their new consolidated bus stop is?
New bus information will be available to families on August 7, 2023 at 5:00 p.m.
Can elementary families choose to walk to school instead of to the consolidated stop location?
Only if the school is set-up to properly accept walkers. Check with your child’s school principal.
If a middle or high school student lives within the 1-mile walk boundary, can they walk 1/10th of a mile the other way and get on the bus at a friend’s bus stop?
No. Secondary students who live within the 1-mile boundary are not eligible for bus transportation.
What plans are in place to keep students safe at consolidated bus stops? How are we keeping our bus walkers safe?
Keeping students safe between home and school is a responsibility we share with parents and families. Some initial ideas were shared through the Roundtable event and community survey. We will communicate any changes in safety protocols before the start of the school year.
What plans are in place for keeping students safe on buses with mixed age groups?
Seating charts will be developed and implemented to separate students by age group on buses that transport middle and high school students together. Transportation staff will work closely with the building Principals to implement behavior expectations and monitor behaviors. All Francis Howell buses are equipped with multiple cameras to increase rider safety.
How many bus routes does the District expect to save if these changes are implemented?
All together, these changes should allow the District to eliminate at least 15 bus routes, reduce the need for 15 bus drivers, save more than $1 million in annual operations costs, help us improve our efficiency rating, resulting in additional state funding, and allow us to have fewer late buses next year, fewer staff staying after school to supervise kids, and less frustration for parents.
If the District’s financial situation were to improve will we go back to transporting all students?
These are intended to be long-term changes, regardless of our future funding or staffing situation. The primary reason for these changes is staffing.
Should we expect more transportation changes in the future?
Additional changes are possible. The FHSD Board of Education has expressed interest in expanding the one-mile walk boundary to include K-5 in the future, potentially as early as the 2024-25 school year. The Board directed Administration to conduct a study to determine changes that would be needed at our elementary schools prior to implementation (for example, crosswalks, sidewalks, parking lot modifications to handle an increase in parent pick-up/drop-off, etc.)
Who should I contact with concerns or additional questions?
Please contact the Transportation Department at firstname.lastname@example.org or (636) 851-6220.
Bus Route information is posted in the Campus Parent Portal, so you must have a Parent Portal account to access them. To view your child's bus route in Parent Portal, please click on the 'More' tab and then select the 'Transportation' tab. If your bus stop is not listed or incorrect, please contact the Transportation Department at 636-851-6220.
Need help finding your student's bus route or setting up a Campus Parent account? Watch this helpful tutorial.
Students who do not ride the bus for three weeks will be removed from the route.
- Parents, including new families, should contact their school to set up or re-establish transportation services. The service will begin in 48 hours.
- Students in boundary change areas, please look for a sign on the bus indicating the name of the school that bus is servicing. Locate your child's school by visiting the Attendance Zones portion of the website. Contact 636-851-6220 to verify bus stops due to soft boundaries.
How Bus Stops are Determined
The Francis Howell Board of Education approves all bus routes and stops. Missouri state law requires that school districts provide transportation for all students who reside more than 3.5 miles from school. Bus routes and stops may change from year to year based upon student population or demographics.
- Unless special permission is granted, students must ride the same bus to and from school.
- Depending upon route structure and time schedule, students may have to walk two or three blocks to the bus stop.
- Bus stops should be located with clear visibility for 500 feet in both directions.
- In residential areas, bus stops are not located within 500 feet of each other to allow the time for the bus warning lights to activate.
- Generally, buses will not travel down cul-de-sacs that are less than one half mile long.
- Visibility from a student’s home to the bus stop is considered but not a requirement.
If your child needs transportation on a route other than their home bus route, please complete a transportation request form 3 days in advance for a consistent alternate schedule. (e.g., multiple residences, childcare location, etc.). Once changes are complete, the new Alternate Route information will be available through your Parent Portal.
The form must be completed and resubmitted to the school office ASAP for all students in need of a change to their stop location. Parents should continue to check the parent portal to access the new alternate bus route information.
Francis Howell School District has charged bus drivers to be responsible for maintaining a safe and orderly environment on their buses. Note, all buses may be monitored by cameras at any time. If there is a concern, the camera recordings are reviewed by school administrators.
Francis Howell School District (FHSD) considers the bus an extension of the classroom; therefore, misbehavior on the bus will result in a consequence. Consequences may include suspension from the bus. In cases where the violation is severe and/or threatens the general safety of students, the matter will be referred immediately to the principal/designee.
The principal/designee has the discretion to implement/develop an alternative discipline plan if needed. The District Transportation Director will meet with the principal/designee as requested or when deemed necessary.
To maintain order and provide a safe environment, a bus driver may take any of the following actions:
- Initiate a conference with a student
- Initiate a conference with a principal/designee
- Direct students to comply with rules
- Alter assigned bus seats
- Issue bus ticket warnings
- Issue bus tickets
- We ask that students and parents arrive at the bus stop 5 minutes before the posted pick-up/drop-off.
- During the first few days of the new school year, bus drivers are adapting schedules to accommodate the needs of our families. Please arrive at your bus stop at least 10 minutes early during that first week as schedules are finalized.
- Students must follow all bus driver directions and all expectations in the Code of Student Conduct.
- Students must ride their assigned bus.
Protecting Your Child at a Bus Stop
- If a student drops something while the bus is present, he or she should tell the bus driver and never try to pick it up. Never run to catch the bus.
- Work with other parents to have children walk to bus stops and wait in groups. Use the “buddy system" whenever possible.
- Create a Safe Walking Plan with your child using the safest and most direct path to the school bus stop and establish “Safe Houses” along the route to the bus stop that your child can go to if approached while walking to the bus stop.
- Stay at least ten feet away from the street while waiting for the bus or after disembarking
- An adult or authorized person must be present to receive all kindergarten students from the bus. If an authorized individual is not there, the child will be returned to their school at the conclusion of the route.
When Boarding the Bus
- Board assigned bus at assigned stop only
- Check that shoelaces are tied and both book bag straps are across both shoulders.
- When the bus approaches, line up in single file and do not walk toward the bus until it comes to a complete stop and the driver opens the door.
- Use the handrail to board the bus and go directly to your seat.
- If it is necessary to cross the street to board the bus, look to the driver. They will provide a “thumbs up” when it is safe to cross.
- Always cross the street in front of the bus.
When Inside the Bus
- Stay seated in the assigned seat throughout the entire trip.
- Talk quietly and do not distract the driver.
- Ask the driver’s permission to open windows.
- Keep all body parts and all objects inside the bus and away from windows.
- Treat others with respect (both verbally and physically)
- Treat the bus with respect (no physical damage, littering, throwing objects, eating or drinking)
- Stay seated facing the front of the bus
When Leaving the Bus
- Depart assigned bus at assigned stop only
- Stay outside the danger zone, keep at least 10 feet away from the bus.
- Stay where the driver can see at all times.
- Watch the driver who will give a “thumbs up” when it is safe to cross the street.
- Cross the street in front of the bus, never behind the bus.
- Never stop to pick up anything from under the bus.
What if I need to change my child’s transportation information?
Parents/Guardians have an opportunity to request changes for bus transportation at the beginning of the each school year. Please review the back-to-school checklist shared in mid-July via email and the website for the deadline to request changes. Bus stop changes needed after the start of the school year typically will take 48 hours. Requests to modify or add bus stops will be considered for safety reasons only. This includes stops along hazardous streets where speed limits are above 25 MPH.
If my child is driving themselves, can they still be issued a bus route?
Student drivers will not be issued a bus route. If the plans change, please contact the school office and transportation services will be reinstated within 48 hours.
Can my child get off at another bus stop?
Students must get on and off at their assigned bus stop only. Drivers are not permitted to provide “sweetheart” stops. Parents must complete the AM/PM Alternative Transportation Request Form and return it to the school office to request multiple stops. See Alternate Transportation Tab on the General Information page.
Can a student who is not assigned to District transportation ride the bus home with a friend?
Students are not permitted to ride the bus home with a friend. In an emergency, parents should contact the school office. Please review your school’s procedures to determine the time deadline for daily changes.
What happens if an authorized adult isn’t present to receive my kindergarten student at the bus stop?
An adult or authorized person must be present to receive all kindergarten students from the bus. If an authorized individual is not there, the child will be returned to their school at the conclusion of the route.
Locate Your Bus Route
View your child's bus route in the Infinite Campus Parent Portal.
Have a transportation problem or looking for more information? Call the FHSD Transportation Department at 636-851-6220.