BCISD might split bus routes between elementary, secondary schools
The Burnet school board is considering adopting a two-tiered bus system that would split current single routes into two: one for elementary and a later run for secondary campuses.
Senior Director of Operations Josh Albro presented a report on the two-tiered option during the Burnet Consolidated Independent School District Board of Trustees’ regular meeting Monday, April 17. Most area school districts use the option, which decreases the number of drivers needed for transportation.
“Due to an unprecedented school bus driver shortage nationwide, several options are being considered to mitigate the shortage in Burnet CISD,” Superintendent Keith McBurnett said in a media statement after the meeting. “The District has taken several steps to increase driver recruitment and retention with some success, and while the District’s staffing levels in transportation are better than most peer districts, it is still not optimal.”
The current proposal would begin the two-tiered system in the 2024-25 school year.
Major benefits include shorter ride times for students. The biggest challenge is coordinating school start times to accommodate two bus runs. Currently, elementary schools begin and end 15-20 minutes earlier than secondary schools. To make a two-tiered system work, the elementary schools would have to start and end 50-60 minutes earlier.
“This difference or gap between elementary and secondary campuses will likely create challenges for families,” said McBurnett, adding that the district will spend the next year seeking feedback from stakeholders, attempting to mitigate challenges, and sharing information about what a two-tier model would look like.
Meanwhile, the district still faces a bus driver challenge for the 2023-24 school year, especially when it comes to absences due to a shortage of substitute drivers.
“The district may be forced at times to cancel pre-identified routes and students may experience longer or delayed routes,” McBurnett continued in the media release. “The district’s goal is to not have that happen, but it is a possibility.”
Plans to communicate quickly with parents about route changes are in the works.
IN OTHER BUSINESS
School districts across the state, including BCISD will receive significantly lower A-F ratings compared to previous years due to changes to the state accountability system that began this school year.
“If BCISD students perform the exact same as last year, then the District’s letter grade rating would drop from a B to a C,” said Assistant Superintendent Dr. Rachel Jones in a report to the Board of Trustees.
Too many schools were reaching the cut score for an A in certain domains, according to the Texas Education Agency, which decided to intentionally reduce the number of As with a new system.
“It is possible that a campus with an A in 2022 may improve in 2023 and yet receive a B,” the TEA wrote in one report.
The final accountability framework will be released this summer; ratings will not be finalized until September 2023.