Parents should expect changes to how students are dropped off and picked up at Wapakoneta City Schools beginning in August.
While the new policies apply to students at all grade levels, its primary focus is elementary age children, district administrators said.
“We had some mistakes that were very concerning,” Superintendent Keith Horner said as to why the new policy was being implemented. “A couple of situations last year would best be described as scary.
“We still want to be customer friendly in how we do things, but overall the theme needs to be making sure kids are safe,” he said. “We’re trying not to come into that one situation where something happens.”
The superintendent acknowledged that the policy will be a change from how the district operated before for parents, but in addition to safety concerns, one elementary school employee was spending several hours a day organizing bus notes while her time could have been spent better do other tasks.
According to the new policy to be in place for the upcoming school year, babysitter transportation requests are to be accepted for kindergarten through seventh-grade and preschool students only. Shared parenting requests are to be accepted for all grades.
“While the Wapakoneta Board of Education realizes that individual families’ childcare needs, at times, require that students be picked up and/or delivered at or near a childcare provider’s location, safety requirements necessitate that a student’s pick-up and delivery locations remain constant five days per week,” according to the policy.
“When a parent desires to have his or her child picked up or delivered at a childcare provider’s location, a written request should be submitted to the district’s transportation office at least two working days, in advance, in order for necessary arrangements to be made and confirmed,” the policy stated.
The stops are expected to be the same for the entire year with each student permitted to have two permanent drop-off points. If a location is changed with written notice at least two days in advance, that change will become one of the two permanent spots.
The policy specifies that the main drop-off location and an alternate location need to be consistent during the school year.
“This is to provide comfort for the parent, child and driver, knowing the student is being delivered to a consistent location,” according to the policy.
The only acceptable modification listed would be a parent or guardian pick up of the child at school.
A parent also may request to have a child picked up at an existing bus stop at an alternate location if requested in writing at least two working days in advance. The alternate location would be expected to be consistent for the entire year.
All changes are to be accommodated on a space available basis.
“Pick up is not an issue,” Horner said. “We will get them to school.
“We want to know we are dropping them off at one of two regular locations,” he said. “They can change but if they do it will become a permanent location.”
In developing the policy, Operations Director Mike Watt said they looked at what other districts were doing as well as talking to parents, teachers, bus drivers and administrators to come up with the best policy.
“The decision came down to safety,” Watt said. “We have to make sure kids get home or to a safe, consistent location after school. We were meeting a lot of needs that didn’t have to be met and needed to get back to focusing on what was best for the safety of the kids.”