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Seattle School Board approves changes to Student Transportation Plan

The Seattle School Board has changed the Seattle Public Schools Transportation Plan to create new neighborhood-based Transportation Zones, in an effort to streamline bus routes for attendance area elementary and K-8 schools starting in September.
The Board estimates the new Transportation Plan will save the school district up to $4 million, or the equivalent of 45 teaching positions. The new Transportation Zones should decrease the bus ride time for attendance area schools to 25 minutes or less, and reduces the bus fleet by about 80 buses.
From Seattle Public Schools’ press release:

Children within the transportation zone and outside of walk zones will be eligible for district-provided transportation. Transportation Zones will include the entire attendance area of a school, extending to areas within a 1.25-mile radius from the school within the middle school service area. Existing walk zones to schools would still apply.
Under the approved plan, bus transportation for middle schools, high schools, option schools, English Language Learners, Special Education and Advanced Learning would have minimal changes.
In addition to the new zones, some bus arrival and departure times will change, with some high schools and middle schools arriving 10-15 minutes earlier and elementary schools arriving 10-15 minutes later. School bell times will be set by the individual schools.
As a result of the plan, an estimated 3,600 elementary students currently receiving transportation reside outside of the new transportation zones. They will still be eligible for the following transportation:
• Students who live within a half of a mile from the Transportation Zone boundary can walk to a bus stop within the zone. Seats will be allocated on a space available basis.
• Community stops will be created so students can catch a bus at or near an attendance area school and take it to another school.
• Students who are no longer eligible for transportation will receive a guaranteed assignment to their attendance area school if requested.
Families can request an assignment to a different school based on these changes in transportation service. To allow for this, Open Enrollment is being extended and will run from March 15-April 15, 2011. This will give the Transportation Department time to notify all families of 2011-12 transportation eligibility, and will also allow families to participate in Open Enrollment if they wish to do so.
Letters to families regarding their student’s transportation eligibility for next year will be sent out in March. Online informational maps and additional information on the eligibility changes are available on the Transportation Services website.