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Frequently Asked Questions

What if my child will be going with a friend on a different bus or getting off at a different stop?
Provide a note containing your child's name, route number, your name, your signature, the route number the child will be riding, the bus stop where he/she will be exiting, and with whom the child is going home. Please have a school administrator sign the note. If they do not sign the note, your child can't ride another bus or get off at a different stop. This also includes high school students.
 

If my child is a kindergartner, do I have to meet them at the bus stop if they do not get off with an older sibling?
YES! For student safety our drivers have been instructed to not let a kindergarten student depart the bus without a parent or older sibling (3rd grade or above). The bus driver will return your child to school.
 

Where is my child's bus stop?
We have a system that will automatically give you your bus information based on your address. You may access this information at http://elink.dysart.org/elinkrp/. If you still have questions regarding the bus, please contact your school.  If the school staff cannot help you, they will know who to contact and will assist you.
 

What if the bus is late?
Don't panic! We will get to every stop. If the bus is more than 15 minutes late, call the Transportation Department at 623-876-7030 for an estimated time of arrival.
 

If my child is absent from school, do I need to call Transportation?
Only if your child is in Special Education.
 

How long do the buses wait in the loading zone when school is dismissed?
Until they are safely loaded (approximately 6 -7 minutes).
 

When the school has early release, what bus does my child ride home?
Your child will ride the same bus that took them to school.
 

My child is the only one getting off at the bus stop, yet the bus travels down my street. Can the bus driver stop in front of my house?
We would like to accommodate every student; however, it is impossible. Bus stops are established to serve an entire neighborhood. Only Special Education students receive a bus stop in front of their house.
 

What if my child is late getting home?
If your child fails to return home at his/her expected time, contact the school first. Please keep in mind there may be many reasons for a bus to be late on its route.
 

What if my child receives a conduct report?
The District maintains a discipline procedure to ensure students follow the student and conduct safety rules. All bus discipline issues will be handled by the school. Please refer to your Student/Parent Handbook for more information on the discipline process.
 

What if I have a concern about Transportation?
Call our customer service line at 623-876-7030.
 

Who should I call if the bus does not arrive on time?
If the bus is more than 15 minutes late you should call your child's school or call Transportation at (623) 876-7030.
 

What information should I have ready when I call Transportation?
You should know your child's route number as well as the school, child's name and stop location.
 

What are the hours of operation at Transportation?
The customer service phone line, 623-876-7030, is staffed from 6 a.m. until 5 p.m. on school days. In addition, parents can call the after-hours helpline at 866-GO-DUSD8 (866-463-8738) for critical issues after 6 p.m. or before 6 a.m.
 

Will my child have the same driver every day?
Your child may have different drivers for the morning, midday and afternoon routes. This is necessary because many drivers provide service for at least two trips during every shift. In addition, the variety of school programs and calendars have an impact on driver assignments. Similarly, students receiving transportation services are highly mobile and frequently change addresses and levels of service. When these factors are combined with limited vehicles, drivers, and a variety of other constraints, a single student route change can impact several routes and drivers. Please be assured that every effort is made to keep driver changes to a minimum.
 

Can the driver stop at my house to pick up or drop off my child?
Only certain students, whose needs are addressed through an Individual Education Plan (IEP) or 504 plan, are eligible for "door-to-door" service. This service is typically restricted to situations where a less restrictive environment is not possible or where medical issues require this type of service.
 

For other students, service is provided in accordance with distance guidelines that assure a maximum travel to the stop of 1 radial mile for students in grades K-8, and 1.5 radial miles for students in grades 9-12. Please note, these guidelines only apply to eligible students. Within these guidelines, every effort is made to improve route efficiency by clustering students to stops and, where possible, providing service on major streets.
 

Can I require that my child only be released to me at the bus stop?
Only certain designated students, whose needs are addressed through an IEP or 504 plan, are eligible for "must be met" service.  For all other students, the parent/guardian is responsible for meeting the bus if they deem it appropriate.
 

To whom should I report my address or telephone number change?
The school should be contacted as soon as possible with information on address or telephone number changes. Once the school has properly recorded this change into the district student database it will take approximately three days to implement transportation service changes if appropriate.
 

Why is the bus late and why wasn't I called?
Some of the situations that could cause lateness include traffic, road closures, weather, vehicle breakdowns or a late prior route. Since we operate close to 120 buses, transporting 6,000 students, it is virtually impossible to contact parents when the bus is slightly late. However, we are in radio contact with all of our buses and when we determine the bus will be 30 or more minutes late, we will attempt to contact the parent/guardian of students on the bus.
 

How will I be notified of a change to my child's stop time or stop location?
The Transportation Department prints a form every time a student's stop assignment or time is changed. These forms are distributed to students by the bus driver when the students depart the bus on their way home from school. The schools are notified and the information will be posted to our bus stop locator as well.
 

I got home late (in p.m.) and I cannot find my child.  I've called the school but there is no answer. What do I do?
A call to Transportation is usually the best option in these circumstances. "Must be met" students are usually returned to school if they are not met. If the student is not a "must be met" student, transportation staff can assist in locating your child. This may involve contacting school personnel at home or, in a worst-case scenario, calling the police. If you arrive home after the Transportation customer service line is closed, please use the district's after-hours helpline. For more information about the after-hours helpline 866-GO-DUSD8 (866-463-8738) .
 

Who should I call if I have a question regarding a bus stop location or pick up/drop off time?
Dysart has a bus stop locator system that will automatically provide you with bus information based on your address. If you still have questions about stop information, please contact your school. If the school staff cannot answer your questions directly, they will know who to contact and will assist you in locating the answers to your questions. If you find the school staff unhelpful, please contact the Transportation Department customer service line at 623-876-7030.
 

If my child uses a wheelchair, what do I need to know about he/she riding the bus?
If your child is transported in a wheelchair, the chair must have working brakes and functioning footrests, the seat and back of the chair must be properly attached, the harness and/or trunk- support system must be attached and the lap belt must be "auto" quality and not Velcro. In addition, lap trays, if used by the student, must be removed and stored during transportation. The driver will be responsible for this as well as all other securement issues. Finally, we remind our drivers that even if the child is independent, the driver or attendant will still be the one wheeling the chair onto the lift. We ask that power chairs be put in the manual position when possible.
 

If my child needs a car seat, what do I need to know about he/she riding the bus?
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has issued guidelines regarding the safe transportation of this age population on a school bus. Based on its research, NHTSA has determined that these children are safest on a school bus when transported in a child restraint safety system or car seat device. The car seats used must be certified and not have been involved in a crash or subject of a recall. To ensure that the seats meet all criteria, the district, if possible, will provide the seat for the child. If the parent is using their own seat, district personnel will ensure that the seat meets all the necessary certifications. The transportation provider is responsible for ensuring the seat is secured properly in the school bus. If you have any questions regarding your child's car seat, please contact our offices at 623-876-7030.
 

My child's bus is overcrowded.  Can some children be placed on another bus?
School bus sizes are stated in terms of passenger capacity for elementary school-aged children. It is assumed that elementary school-aged children will ride three per seat. Middle and high school students are assumed to ride two per seat. If the bus has three elementary students or two middle or high school students in each seat, it may seem crowded but it will not be over capacity. It is our goal to fully utilize all the space on all the buses in our fleet.
 

I see buses all the time with only a few children on them.  What are they doing?
Dysart Unified school buses make two to four runs into and out of schools each day. We currently carry over 6,000 students to and from school daily. The majority of these runs achieve a load factor of more than 60 percent. However, we have many special programs that require students be transported considerable distances. When transporting students for special programs, the length of the run sometimes makes it impossible to fully utilize the capacity of the bus. As the bus travels within the school's attendance boundary it will stop and pick up additional students.

Examples special programs may include:

Gifted and after-school programs that encompass multiple school boundaries and result in light loads due to the number of students involved and the time and mileage to the centralized locations.  Alternative programs, vocational programs, alternative schools and similar programs with limited enrollment and central locations may result in light loads.  Special Education program runs tend to be light loaded due to the small number of children assigned to centers across the district.

Another reason for smaller loads is school boundaries. Our vast boundaries can make bus runs far and lengthy, resulting in loads that are less than full capacity.
 

I drove the route in my car and we live more than the stated walking distance from school. Why does my child not qualify to ride the bus?
We measure the distances with a special computer mapping software. These distances are calculated by following the streets and looking at the radial distance. 
 

To whom should I speak if I feel my child's walking route is not safe? 
If you believe an unsafe situation exists, address your concerns to the transportation office by calling 623-876-7030. Transportation staff familiar with the area and the traffic patterns will evaluate your concerns. If unusual hazards are identified, bus transportation will be provided.
 

Since you have staff to evaluate walking and bus routes, can I assume that my child is safe walking to the school or bus stop if he or she takes the most direct or most reasonable route possible?
No. It is impossible for the staff to assess the safety of every possible walking route to a bus stop or a school, and every family will have a different definition of the most direct or reasonable route. Even more important, what is "safe" varies from child to child. It is very important that you assess your child's age and maturity before permitting him or her to walk unaccompanied to school or a bus stop. Keep in mind that children younger than age 9 or 10 often do not make good decisions regarding traffic safety, and generally should be accompanied by an adult or responsible older child. Regardless of the child's age, if the child's behavior or maturity suggests that he or she will be unsafe without adult or other supervision, or if the parents have any concerns about conditions on the route, parents should provide that supervision on the walking route and/or at the bus stop.
 

I cant see my child's bus stop from my house.  How can I get the bus stop moved closer?
Bus stops are placed at centralized locations that can be safely accessed by a significant number of students to minimize the time length and mileage of the run. If you have concerns about your child's safety you are encouraged to accompany your child to the bus stop or arrange a neighborhood buddy to walk with your child.  Elementary children (grades K through 8) may be required to walk up to one mile to a bus stop. High school students may be required to walk up to one and a half miles to a bus stop.
 

My child goes to a day care provider in an area with bus service.  May my child ride the bus?
Because of the time and space constraints of our transportation system, we can only provide transportation to day care providers who reside within the attendance area of the students school.  If you want transportation to or from a day care provider location, you should contact the transportation department at 623-876-7030.
 

My child is a special education student. To whom should I speak concerning his/her transportation?
Students requiring lift buses or other special transportation needs are transported by the special education transportation staff. If you have a question about who should transport your child, call the transportation office at 623-876-7030. They are happy to assist you.
 

My child left an item (coat, instrument, retainer, books, etc.) on the bus.  How does he/she get it back?
Drivers check their buses after every run. Items left by students are held by the transportation department and may be claimed by coming to the transportation office during normal operating hours, 6 a.m. to 5 p.m.. Unclaimed and unlabeled items are donated to charity after a reasonable period of time. You can help by labeling all of your child's school belongings with his/her name and school.
 

What are the different types of school buses?
The Dysart Unified School District operates several types of school buses. There are transit-style buses that have a flat front, like a Metro bus. Some of these buses are rear engine; others have the engine in the front. The benefits of this design are that it affords the driver excellent forward visibility, the lack of a large hood makes it easier and safer for the driver to check the engine prior to driving and it allows more seats with the same overall vehicle length. Practically all of the buses that Dysart has bought are this type of bus.

The second major style of bus is the conventional style. These busses have a long forward hood. The decreased forward visibility afforded by this design is compensated for by swing-out crossing gates which force any students crossing in front of the bus to walk well out in front of the bus to ensure the driver can see him or her. The difficulty for the driver to open the heavy hood to check the engine has been reduced but has not been eliminated with this style of bus.

There is a third type of bus that is, essentially, a short-nosed conventional bus. The hood is very short, so there is still good foreword visibility, and the hood is fairly light, so it is not too difficult to open.

In terms of bus sizes, there are many available. Dysart has large buses that are used for most students, including a large number of 84-passenger transit buses, and some 78-passenger buses.   Large buses are what are used to transport most students.

The smaller sizes range from 54-passenger to 27-passenger buses. Many of these buses are equipped with wheelchair lifts.  A single wheelchair position requires the same space as two or three bench seats; therefore, a lift-equipped bus will carry far fewer passengers than its size might indicate.

All of our buses are diesel-powered. Additionally, all of our buses are equipped with two-way radios.
 

Why are school bus seats spaced so closely together?
The basic purpose in spacing school bus seats so closely is to contain the child in a cushioned compartment with only a minimum amount of space between energy-absorbing surfaces.

After extensive research during the 1970's, the U.S. Department of Transportation and its agency, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) determined that the safest and most practical arrangement for school bus seating would be a "compartmentalization" concept. Accordingly, the new safety regulations established in 1977 included this requirement, among many other improvements made that year.

Under the compartmentalization concept, seat backs in school buses are made higher, wider and thicker than before. All metal surfaces are covered with foam padding. This structure must then pass rigid test requirements for absorbing energy, such as would be required if a child's body were thrown against the padded back. In addition, the equivalent of a seat back, called a "barrier," is placed in front of the first seat at the front of the bus.

In addition to padding, today's seats also must have a steel inner structure that springs and bends forward to help absorb energy when a child is thrown against it. The steel frame must "give" just enough to absorb the child in the seat ahead. Also, of course, the seat is required to be anchored to the floor so strongly it will not pull loose during this bending action. The floor itself must be so strong that it will not be bent or torn by the pulling action of the seat anchors.

Finally, the requirement was added that seat backs can be no farther apart than a distance that is deemed safe. Clearly, if the backs were too far apart, the child could be thrown too far before being cushioned and/or could be thrown outside the compartment altogether. Today's rules call for a seat back to be no farther than 24 inches away from a defined point in the middle of a child's abdomen (the seat reference point).
 

Why aren't seat belts required in school buses?
Seat belts are not required in school buses because research performed by the U.S. Department of Transportation and others determined that compartmentalization was a better solution, as mentioned in the answer to the previous question. Some of the key arguments favoring compartmentalization over seat belts are as follows:
 
  • Compartmentalization is more manageable. The protective surfaces exist in place without depending on any action by the children or any extra special supervision by the drivers. Seat belts require discipline and supervision to keep them clean, unraveled and in use.
  • Compartmentalization works equally well for 1, 2 or 3 students per seat. Today's 39 inch-wide standard seats may contain three small children or two large ones, or any combination in between. Arranging seat belts to properly handle any combination is difficult, if not impossible; the best known solution with seat belts is to restrict each seat to two students and two belts, which has the disadvantage of sharply reducing the carrying capacity of bus fleets.
  • Compartmentalization works whether students have fully developed abdominal areas or not. Conventional seat belts, which are lap restraints only, are not suitable for small children whose abdominal area and bone structure are not adequately developed to take the force of a lap belt alone. They need the help of chest harnesses also, which adds to the complexity of a proper seat belt solution.
  • Compartmentalization, once it has done its energy-absorbing job, leaves the student free to escape the bus. Seat belts could leave students strapped in, upside down, perhaps unconscious, in burning or flooding buses.
  • Compartmentalization is most affordable. Although not a part of the DOT reasoning, this is a factor to be considered. In evaluating the cost of seat belts alone, one should include the cost of retractors and chest restraints also, since those appear needed. Even more important is the probability that a seat belt solution should lead to two students per seat and greater spacing between seats, thereby requiring more buses for the same student load.
 

Why can't all high schools and elementary schools start at the same time for each group?
In order to maximize the use of our school bus fleet, and to provide more efficient operation with as few buses as possible, schools are put into one of three distinctly different time schedules. That enables one bus to serve two to three different schools within 2 1/2 hours in the morning and afternoon. High schools are generally in the first or second time schedule and elementary schools can be on any of the first, second, or third since there are more elementary schools.

It is sometimes necessary to change some schools starting and ending times each year due to program changes and the addition of new schools. This helps to prevent the underutilization of buses.
 

How can I arrange to have my child ride a different bus home from school for one day?
The child's parent or guardian must send a written request to the school principal. If approved, the principal will provide written authorization to the driver of that bus.