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Student Transportation Practices

The Rochester Public School District #535 is committed to providing safe and efficient school bus transportation to its students. We have a long tradition of providing this service safely to all students that are eligible under Minnesota State laws, rules and regulations. The State of Minnesota currently requires that we transport students living 2 miles or more from the school that they attend. Rochester Public Schools provide transportation to students who live more than 1.25 miles from the school that they attend for K-5 students, 1.5 miles for 6-8 students, and 2 miles for 9-12 students. Students that attend a school other then their assigned school through an exception are not eligible for this transportation regardless of the distance. The following will outline the services we provide and explain how we comply with laws and rules that pertain to school bus transportation.

1. Goal Our goal is to provide safe, reliable and efficient transportation to the students that reside within the boundaries of the school district, within the constraints of a limited and regulated budget, so when students arrive at school they are ready to learn.

2. General Information
A. Walking Areas Traffic safety factors and distance are two primary criteria used to establish walking areas to schools. The walking area is determined by measuring the distance from the property entrance at the school to the property entrance at the residence, using the most direct route including walking paths, bike trails, etc.

B. Bus Stops
Bus stops will be located at corners or intersections, whenever possible. The designated area that students wait for the bus must be within a bus length to the corner(about 40 feet). The bus driver will designate this area to the students after the first day. This may change during the year. Stopping at corners or intersections is safer due to the expectations of traffic. When a bus stops mid-block it can confuse motorists, whereas traffic anticipates the bus will stop or yield at intersections. It also provides the driver or substitute driver a landmark (intersection) to identify prior to making the stop so the eight-lamp system can be properly activated to warn the public. This also allows the driver to scan the area for students when approaching the intersection. Sidewalks are not necessarily a deciding factor in bus stop location.

Bus Stop Change Request
 Please contact First Student Bus Company at 507-289-4541. 
School bus drivers do not have the authority to change bus routes or student stops.

Bus Stop Criteria

1. School buses will use the eight-light system and stop arm at all stops in the Rochester School District unless the bus can safely get out of the lane of traffic and students do not have to cross the street. Buses will use their 4-way hazard lights in this situation. In order to properly operate the eight-light system, no bus stop will be made within 300 feet of one another.

 2. Buses serving students with disabilities may stop while using their 4-way hazard lights only at house stops where it takes an extended period of time to load/unload the student. . At these stops the bus will pull over to the curb at the driveway and student will not be allowed to cross the roadway. Buses will not go into the student’s driveway, unless prior approval has been given due to the hazard of backing out. The bus horn will not be used to announce arrival.

 3. Buses will not generally travel down cul-de-sacs less than ½ mile unless the vehicle is picking up handicapped children. Backing a school bus is a dangerous maneuver. A full-sized bus needs 115 feet to safely turn and most cul-de-sacs are only 90 feet wide.

 4. Unless prior approval has been given and transportation has approved, no school bus will travel on private roads.

 5. Bus stops should be located with clear visibility for 300 feet in both directions. Stops in a residential area where the speed limit is less than 35 mph or less may not be located within 100 feet of each other.

 6. Stops in or out of residential areas where the speed limit is 35 mph or greater may not be located within 300 feet of each other.

 7. School Buses may load/unload in right-turn lanes if pre-approval has been given. 4-way hazard lights will be used and students must not cross the road.

 8. There is not a fixed number of students that warrant adding or moving a stop. All stops are determined on an individual basis.

 9. Visibility from the home to the bus stop is not part of the criteria for establishing bus stops.

 10. Stranger-Danger criteria are used only under documented persisting or current cases that public safety can verify.

 11. The bus driving by does not warrant adding or changing a stop. The higher frequency of stops can make the motoring public “impatient’ and cause drivers to drive around the bus causing greater safety concern than the distance a student has to walk to the bus stop. It also delays the bus, making the overall student time on the bus longer.

C. Bus Routes Bus routes are arranged according to geographic area and stops are assigned from 1-3 blocks of a student’s home whenever possible. Students that attend a district-wide school whose boundaries cover the entire district boundary will be assigned to a neighborhood bus stop. They will then be bused to a transfer site, usually a school and transfer to a bus going to their school. Transfers for district-wide students are important to keep our transportation system as efficient as possible in both cost and logistics. The bus route and/or stops may change from year to year based on student population.

D. Bus Ridership Students will be sent bus stop information before the start of school each year. Students must ride the bus that they are assigned and ride the same bus to and from school unless prior approval from the Transportation Department has been given. Bus route numbers and animal pictures will be placed in the side window of each bus to be used. At the discretion of the bus driver, students may be assigned seats at any time. Students will be expected to abide by all the school bus safety rules, which are posted in every bus. Students in grades K-10 must also attend school bus safety training within the first 6 weeks of school every year. This is scheduled during the school day.

3. Nonpublic Students
Minnesota Statute 123.79 requires the school district to provide equal services to nonpublic students in the Rochester Public Schools geographic boundaries.

4. Activity Busing
Limited late activity buses are provided for middle school students that stay after school for school sponsored activities. Only those students who are eligible by state standards are allowed to ride the activity bus. Currently these routes run Monday-Thursday. A listing of the stops for each school is on our website. With one bus for each middle school, it is impossible to cover the entire attendance area. As a result, stops may be much farther away than regular stops. Students not eligible for regular to and from routing are also not eligible for activity busing.

5. Daycare Service : The following daycare information will apply.

A. The Transportation department will regard a student’s daycare location as their residence for the purpose of transportation if requested by the parent/guardian. It is necessary that the daycare be located in the same school attendance area as the child is attending and in the case of kindergarten, the same AM or PM designated area. Transportation will be provided from the student’s home or daycare if distance requirements are met as well.

B. The pickup and drop-off bus stop may not vary from day to day but must be the same location every morning and every afternoon. Only the following will be considered;
1) Pickup at home, drop off at home,
2) Pickup at home, drop off at daycare,
3) Pickup at daycare, drop off at daycare,
4) Pickup at daycare, drop off at home.

C. It is imperative that the parent/guardian provide the Transportation Department with the daycare information by May 1 each year for the upcoming school year. This allows the department to establish routes as accurately as possible. Please fill out the Child Care Transportation Request Form for review.

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