Important Transportation Update
Transportation Reliability Improvement Measures (Fall 2022)
Safely busing more than 38,000 students in Columbus each day to school and back home is a priority for the Columbus City Schools Transportation team. Just as important is our ability to be a reliable partner with parents and families, school staff, and stakeholders. However, the combined impacts of a national shortage of bus drivers and a routing software misstep created an unprecedented challenge to our transportation reliability. We appreciate the grace shown by our community so far this school year as we’ve worked through this challenge, but we also understand the frustration and difficulty it’s placed on many of our families. That’s why we are implementing unprecedented measures to improve our transportation reliability moving forward.
Our Transportation Reliability Improvement Measures (TRIM) include the following:
1. Improving Bus Route Management (Versatrans by Tyler Technologies)
We are undertaking an unprecedented mid-year action to update ALL bus routes across the city, effective January 3. This means nearly every student who currently receives yellow bus transportation in Columbus (both CCS students and Charter/Non-Public students) will likely have a new bus driver, new pick-up and drop-off times, and/or a new bus stop location.
- Our Transportation Team is able to make this major shift in routing by changing out the software that was originally used at the start of the school year (AlphaRoute) and replacing the system with the Versatrans by Tyler Technologies software previously used by the District.
- This change in software will restore the ability for CCS transportation staff to update bus routes, add or remove riders, and adjust the number of routes to better match the number of available drivers.
- Recognizing the need to help address this crisis, the District’s union partners (OAPSE) have agreed to the unprecedented mid-year reassignment of routes for drivers who typically bid on and retain the same route all year long.
- By the end of November, the CCS Transportation team will have completed all of the new bus routes, schedules, and assignments, which will be shared with parents and families, school staff, and stakeholders.
- Improving bus route management - and having the ability to make immediate adjustments throughout the year - is an important part of addressing some of the reliability challenges around late or uncovered bus routes.
2. Increasing Family Notification (EZDistrict)
We recognize that our parents and families, school staff, and stakeholders were often most frustrated by simply not knowing if their students’ buses would be late or not show up. That’s why our Transportation team is also taking new steps to improve how we engage and notify everyone about changes.
- Prior to the new bus routes and schedules taking effect when students return from winter break in January, the District will dedicate significant time and resources to providing parents and families, school staff, and stakeholders with information, including a specially written notification sent by mail to the families of all bus riders (both CCS students and Charter/Non-Public students). That’s roughly 38,000 letters in the mail.
- The Transportation team will also send out emails and text messages to families with the new routes and schedule. That’s why the District is asking all CCS families to double-check their contact information in the Parent Portal (including a cell phone number for text messages) and asking non-CCS families to update contact information with their children’s Charter/Non-Public Schools, who then enter the information in our Infinite Campus system.
- Even though our schools are closed, the CCS Transportation Call Center at 614-365-5074 will be open during most of the Thanksgiving and Winter Break to help answer families’ questions.
- In addition, the Transportation team is implementing a new direct communication tool called EZDistrict, which will be used to send emails and text messages directly to parents when a bus route is delayed or uncovered.
- NO SIGN-UP IS NEEDED. The EZDistrict tool uses the contact information in Parent Portal/Infinite Campus to send out messages to families - which is why it’s important that contact information is up-to-date.
- To streamline how delays and uncovered routes are reported, the transportation dispatch center and the call center will be directly responsible for uploading information into EZDistrict, including mandatory reporting deadlines in the morning and afternoon when routes are uncovered.
- Information about delayed and uncovered routes will also be shared with principals/administrators at the schools served by CCS yellow buses (both CCS schools and Charter/Non-Public) so parents can also get updates from trusted sources.
3. Addressing the Charter/Non-Public Challenge
Families at many of our city’s Charter and Non-Public Schools have been impacted by these transportation challenges. Our District takes the state-mandated responsibility seriously to transport ALL students, even if they do not attend Columbus City Schools. We want to work collaboratively with our Charter/Non-Public School partners to resolve this disconnect.
- CCS cannot mandate changes to the start/end times for Charter/Non-Public Schools, but we will continue to ask these schools to consider adjusting their bell schedules to better match driver availability. Unless these schools are willing to change, current bell times will be maintained for the remainder of the school year.
- Prior to the new bus routes and schedules taking effect in January, the Transportation team will send the information to the principals/administrators at the Charter/Non-Public Schools and ask for their support in informing their students of the changes.
- Prioritizing the need to keep Charter/Non-Public families informed, the District chose to invest in using the new EZDistrict notification system because of its ability to also reach out to non-CCS families (otherwise, we could have used our existing CCS notification systems).
4. Seeking Bus Driver Alternatives
Columbus City Schools values its bus drivers and continues to invest in recruiting, training, and retaining drivers. Still, the national driver shortage crisis does not appear to be waning, and we need to seek other remedies to finding drivers or identifying alternatives.
- The District will continue proactively recruiting drivers of all experience levels. Our job fair is virtually around the clock: interested candidates can apply at any time, 24/7, online at www.ccsoh.us/jobs.
- The Transportation team will enlist the help of our Charter/Non-Public schools to identify additional drivers who could be assigned to work specifically with the schools that recruited them (pending any labor agreement process).
- The Transportation team will also continue to use outside transportation agencies for routes that are increasingly difficult for CCS buses to cover reliably. We appreciate that many of these transportation companies have been able to take on more routes in these last several weeks.
Our district leaders will seek additional support and relief from state mandates from our partners at the Ohio Department of Education and local legislative leaders. We cannot resolve the impacts of a national crisis on our own, nor should our city’s taxpayers be punished as a result of factors outside of our local control. We look forward to collaborative solutions with our state partners.
The transportation of 44,000 students every day is a very important job, and one that Columbus City Schools' (CCS) staff take very seriously.
The District's bus drivers go through rigorous background checks, and must have or earn a Commercial Driver's License (with a bus endorsement from the Ohio Department of Education) before they may drive a bus.
We serve students K-12 across the district, along with the Pre-K students with IEPs being served in our CCS classrooms.
Q. If my student is late to school due to the bus being delayed, is this an excused absence?
A. If a student is late for school due to a bus delay, it's an excused absence.
Q. If my student misses the school day because the bus didn’t pick him/her up, is this an excused absence?
A. If a student misses the school day because a bus didn't pick them up, it's an excused absence--whether or not the bus ever came has to be verified with transportation. Parents should call their child’s school to provide information.
Is Your Parent Portal Account Activated?
Stay engaged in your child’s education by setting up and signing into the Columbus City Schools Parent Portal. Through the Parent Portal, you’ll be able to securely access valuable information on your student(s):
- Teacher Contact
- Grades and Course Schedules
- Daily Attendance
- Missed Assignments
- Paperless Applications for School Choice, Summer School, and Career Tech
- Update Contact Information
- Pay Fees
- Transportation Information
For more information on the Parent Portal or to set up your account, please visit the Parent Portal page or download the document below.
Frequently Asked Questions
What to do if your child misses the bus?
The parent/guardian should immediately call the Transportation Department at 614-365-5074. The Transportation staff will contact the driver of the assigned bus for pick up and verify on our GPS system that the bus did/did not arrive as assigned. If the bus missed the stop we will send another bus as soon as it becomes available, however, if the bus was there the parent/guardian will need to arrange transportation of the child to school.
What if my child left something on the bus?
Call the Transportation Department, 614-365-5074. Any “Lost & Found” item will be stored at the Transportation Department for a period of two weeks.
Keeping Buses Moving
Riding the school bus is a privilege. Your cooperation will be needed to ensure a safe and pleasant ride for your student to and from school. Any student choosing to misbehave could be denied the privilege of riding the school bus.
Students should be at their assigned bus stop waiting for the bus five (5) minutes before the scheduled pick up time. Drivers are not required to wait for tardy students because it will make the balance of the route late. We have many students living on major roads and waiting would cause a traffic hazard.
Students are prohibited from eating, littering, chewing gum, and drinking anything on school buses. Smoking, consuming alcoholic beverages, and fighting on school buses will cause immediate termination of bus riding privileges.
Dogs and other animals, glass jars, and things not stored comfortably on a bus seat or that will protrude into the aisle are illegal to transport.
When students are dismissed from school they are to go promptly to their school bus. Drivers are instructed to depart the school five (5) minutes after dismissal.
Drivers shall carry a route schedule on the bus and attempt to conform to it as closely as possible considering traffic conditions, road conditions, and safety considerations.
Drivers shall assign seats to pupils on the school bus.
Drivers are permitted, by law, to use reasonable force and restraint in maintaining order and control in emergency situations.
The transportation of passengers other than the students assigned to the trip is not permitted.
As part of CCS' Transportation Reliability Improvement Measures, the District is undertaking an unprecedented mid-year action to update ALL bus routes across the city, effective January 3.
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Gwendolyn Harper knows all about school bus safety -- she has been a bus driver with Columbus City Schools for nearly 30 years.
Dr. Dixon addresses CCS' families transportation concerns with a comprehensive update.
Students designed a special "This Is How We Roll" t-shirt and held a special event to thank and acknowledge 600 CCS bus drivers.