Inside Education: Transportation framework

Student transportation to public school is directed at multiple levels: legislation at the state level, local board of education policies, and by the transportation company contract with the district.

The basic idea is for a community to decide a safe and cost-efficient way to transport its students to its schools. Here in Ridgefield we have nine schools over seven campus sites.  We have reduced transportation costs over many budget cycles, and now we have a four-tier system where RPS needs 50 buses to transport our students in successive waves.

Connecticut General Statute section 10-186 requires boards of education to provide transportation to enable children to attend public schools. (Please refer to section 10-220 (a) of the CGS for further clarification of the legal requirement.)  

The Ridgefield Board of Education policy concerning transportation can be found in Policy 3541 and was adopted in March 2016. It directs the superintendent to establish transportation routes with safety as the primary consideration. Policy requirements cover the maximum distance that students at each grade level will be required to walk to a designated school or bus stop as well as other considerations for route establishment.

Under Board of Education Policy 3541.21, the district shall issue a request for proposals (RFP) at least every five years for the district’s primary bus carrier. The current transportation contract is with First Student and the transportation RFP process is underway this fall. Edulog is the school bus routing software that Ridgefield uses to provide routing and planning solutions for our bus routes. It is independent of the bus company. To assist with the current BOE research into potentially changing school start times, an independent consultant (School Bus Consultants) was brought in for the specific task of identifying options for alternative busing patterns with various school start time scenarios and identifying transportation cost ranges for those scenarios.

This column was submitted to The Press by the nine members of the Ridgefield Board of Education.