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District developing plan for school bus route locations for 2021-22 school year

On July 15, Maize USD 266 sent the following message from Dr. Chad Higgins, Superintendent of Schools, to district parents and guardians:

 

Maize USD 266 parents/guardians,

District leaders are developing a plan for where school bus routes will be located for the 2021-22 school year. This affects which students will have district-provided transportation available. We do not expect routes to be the same as either the 2020-21 or 2019-20 school years. We are sharing an update with you today, and it is important for you to please read this information, as it may explain your child(ren)’s access to district transportation beginning in August. These decisions are not easy to make, and I hope today’s email and future communications help explain more in depth.

First, here is a bit of background about school transportation: Historically, the district has transported many more students than required by the state, including students who lived within the 2.5-mile mark of their school. We also must balance the needs of the district’s transportation department, which has struggled with a bus driver shortage since at least 2018. Unfortunately, this is a problem for other peer school districts, as well. For Maize, the shortage in recent years led to consolidated bus routes and staffing challenges.

District leaders have been analyzing bus routes and transportation needs and have developed a plan for the 2021-22 school year, and you can learn more by accessing the referenced maps and reading the bullet points below.

There are three maps available to view by clicking here that help explain the current plan.

  • Map 1 (on page 1): For students in grades Pre-K to 4 who live in the northern portion of the school district
  • Map 2 (on page 2): For students in grades 5-12 who live in the northern portion of district
  • Map 3 (on page 3): For students in all grades who live in the southern portion of district

Transportation plan details:

  • Transportation will be provided again this school year in some areas where it was not made available to students last year. This includes neighborhoods south of 29th Street North in Wichita: Bradford North and the northwest quarter of Reflection Ridge (Fossil Rim and Northridge Lakes), as the accompanying Map 3 indicates.
  • Transportation may be provided again in other areas, but the district at this time is unable to guarantee bus routes to areas indicated in yellow on the accompanying Maps 1, 2, and 3. This yellow area includes the neighborhoods of Oak Ridge 1, portions of Tyler’s Landing, portions of Avalon Park, Fieldstone Apartments, and Hunter’s Glen. 
  • Note that transportation in the north boundary will not be identical for students in grades pre-k through 4 and grades 5 through 12, as the accompanying Maps 1 and 2 indicate. This means students in pre-K through 4 may receive transportation while students in grades 5 through 12 in the same household/neighborhood north and east of Maize Middle School may or may not.

District leaders acknowledge that this change may be welcome for some families who will again receive transportation but discouraging to others, especially those who have relied on district transportation in the past. Consideration for this plan was given to the distance from homes to schools, safe walking routes, driver availability, student enrollment, and transportation needs. 

Important notes:

  • The district encourages families, specifically those who live in the areas highlighted in yellow on Maps 1, 2, and 3, to start planning for their children’s transportation to and from school.
  • For students in intermediate, middle, and high school, transportation will only be provided where available to the respective boundary-assigned school.
  • Until further notice, transportation will be offered to students attending their boundary school of Maize Intermediate School. This is a safety-related measure while improvements continue to be made at the intersection of 45th and 119th Streets in Maize. Two additional phases of that roadway project remain and likely will stretch far into the 2021-22 school year.
  • The district’s goal is to know more about the shaded yellow areas by Aug. 1. The district also will continually work, into the school year if necessary, to provide transportation to these areas.
  • Remember that Current Student Registration for 2021-22 is open and includes information on your child(ren)’s school bus needs. If you have not yet done so, please complete registration through Skyward Family Access.

While transportation will not be limited specifically because of COVID-related needs, the district will encourage unvaccinated students to wear face masks while riding the bus and wash their hands to protect themselves and other younger children. Currently, the COVID vaccination is not available to those ages 11 and younger.

To hire more bus drivers, the district has executed a recruitment campaign this summer that included two public job fairs to hire more bus drivers. The district invites any qualified candidates to join our team by applying online here to be a CDL licensed bus driver or here to be a van/mini bus/non-CDL driver. Thank you for helping us find great drivers to join our OneMa1ze team.

Thank you,

Dr. Chad Higgins
Superintendent of Schools
Maize USD 266