District reviews busing dilemma
Board looks to alleviate overcrowding due to enrollment growth
EAST CALN >> Adjustments are being made for the busing of Downingtown Area School District students to alleviate the over crowdings due to its enrollment growth.
During the school board meeting on Wednesday, district Chief Financial Officer Rich Fazio explained that district consultants last year informed the administrators that they could reduce seven buses to save money. However, the buses are now needed again because of an increase in student enrollment.
“As a result we developed our 2016-17 bus schedule with that goal in mind and as a target. We fell short on that goal, but we were able to reduce our fleet by six buses,” Fazio said. “Throughout the summer we noticed the enrollments were increasing and we were concerned with ride times as well as ridership. When school began, enrollment in the Downingtown Area School District was at an all-time high.”
More than 14,000 students are
enrolled in the district. According to the district, 378 additional students enrolled in the district since September 2015 with 323 who enrolled since June. Fazio said the ridership ratio became “higher than expected.”
The capacity on a bus is 72 passengers, which equals three students to a seat. He said the district tries to maximize the capacity at
48 passengers, which equals two students per seat.
“While we consider 72 passengers on a bus overcrowded, it is important to note that the PDE (Pennsylvania Department of Education) does not,” Fazio said. “Clearly several buses are overcrowded this year. Book bags, musical instruments and sporting equipment, simply adds to the overcrowding.”
He said it is a “concern” for any of the buses to have more than 48 students, especially at the secondary level.
“The district has experienced unanticipated growth. With over 300 new registered students, there have been instances of overcrowding on some school buses,” the district website states. “We are aware of the situation and will be seeking a solution.”
Fazio noted the district transportation department has made adjustments to the bus schedule and it is monitoring the ridership ratio this week. Drivers are taking headcounts of the passengers to report to the district by Friday for the staff to make additional changes to relieve the overcrowding. The district transportation department is reviewing to determine if adding bus routes are necessary.
“Each additional bus represents a $72,000 decision,” Fazio said. “We hope that by the end of next week, buses will have been significantly reduced (in ridership).”
There was no public comment about the matter.