August 10, 2007

D70 Revamps Pueblo West School Bus Routes

By Gayle Perez, The Pueblo Chieftain, Colo.

Aug. 10--Some Pueblo West High School students may have to do a little more walking this year to get to school after District 70 revamped its bus routes.

The changes will mean that some students living within a few miles from their school will no longer be bused.

Also, other students may have to walk farther to bus stops because pick-up and drop-off locations have been modified to make more efficient routes.

The changes are being made because of modifications in the start and release times at the high school. The routes had to be redesigned in order to get all students, including elementary and middle school, to class on time.

Classes begin on Thursday for District 70 sixth and ninth graders. All other students begin on Aug. 17.

Earlier this year, school officials decided to move the start time at Pueblo West High School to 8 a.m., at least a half-hour later than last year. Classes will be dismissed at 3:20 p.m.

The change makes the start times closer to those of the middle and elementary schools, which would make it difficult for bus drivers to get all students to class on time unless changes were made to the routes, said Greg Keasling, director of pupil services.

"Based on the finances of this district, we don't have enough buses to have separate ones for just the elementary, middle and high schools," he said.

Keasling said the district had to modify the routes at the high school level so that, in some cases, drivers could do multiple routes in the mornings.

The changes affect primarily the high school, where Keasling said there is only 40 percent ridership.

At the elementary- and middle-school level, nearly 100 percent of the students rely on the bus trans- portation.

Keasling said the changes to the routes will put the bus stops farther apart, which may lead to some students having to walk a bit farther than last year. He said no stops will be more than two to three miles from a student's home.

"Instead of doing door-to-door service like we've done in the past, we are reducing (routes) to no more than 10 stops," he said.

High school students living in the Sierra Vista Elementary School boundary area also will now be required to get to school on their own. That boundary area is within a 2- to 3-mile radius from the high school.

Keasling said students in that area can either walk to school, have parents drop them off at school or have parents take them to a designated school bus stop.

In designing the new routes to accommodate the schedule changes, Keasling said district officials wanted to ensure student safety as well as to make sure that students were not spending excessive amounts of time on the bus.

"I've driven all the routes and I assure you, they are as safe as we can get," he said. "As far as for kids walking, the infrastructure in Pueblo West is such that there aren't any sidewalks, but fortunately, there are ditches that are flat enough for the students to walk in."

Keasling added most of the bus stops are at locations where parents can park and wait with their children for the bus.

Additionally, Keasling said all the routes were designed so that students would not be required to ride the bus for more than 50 minutes.

The longest route is 50 minutes and the shortest is 14 minutes. The earliest students will be required to catch the bus is 6:43 a.m. and the latest is 7:39 a.m.

For after-school students, the first buses will leave the high school at 3:20 p.m. with the last being at 3:48 p.m. The latest a student will be dropped off is at 4:15 p.m.

Although Pueblo County High School also has changed its start time to 8:30 a.m., Keasling said major changes to the bus schedules were not made because of the wide geographic area that is served by the high school.

Also, the Mesa area has some routes where students from elementary, middle and high school can ride the same bus.

Pueblo West elementary and middle school students will see few changes in the bus routes as will the students in the St. Charles Mesa and Rye/Colorado City areas of the district, according to Keasling.

He said some of the pick-up and drop-off points have changed slightly to make the routes more efficient.

Copies of all the bus routes will be available at schools on Tuesday. Routes for the Pueblo West High school also are available on the school's Web site.


Pueblo West High School:


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