My name is Ed Stoll and I am the new Transportation Director for the Clarke District. Many of you know me from my previous career as a police officer here in Osceola. I have lived here for a long time and I don’t plan to go anywhere. I am excited for the opportunity to serve and for the challenges that go with it.
There are a lot of changes coming to school transportation this year. It is my desire to have things flow smoothly and safely. Part of that is to make sure everyone is aware of how it is going to work. As in the past all students that live outside of Osceola are offered transportation regardless of their age/grade. Only the elementary students that live in Osceola are eligible for transportation. Middle and high school students in Osceola walk or make other arrangements to get to school. There is an exception to this where middle and high school students living at Friendly Acres and the Meadows development are offered transportation because of a lack of sidewalks from the area.
The biggest change for this year is the implementation of bus stops in Osceola. I was asked by the administrative team and some city leaders to change to a “bus stop” system rather than a door to door method. I was given a few guidelines such as students homes need to be no more than 3 blocks or so from a bus stop or the school. I attempted to make sure no student had to cross railroad tracks or the highways other than the new highway 34 crossing. I partnered with Police Chief Duffus to go around vetting bus stops. We looked at the distance stops are from homes and most importantly safety of the location. It ends up having 30+ stops around the community. I will get a map linked or posted on the website so you can see where the stops are. If you check your registration on Infinite Campus there should be a stop number assigned to your student and you should be able to look it up on the map. There are some who walk a little more than the three blocks and I am sure there will probably be some changes as we test them in the real world. Please bear with us as we make this change. It will make transportation more efficient and safer not having so many stops with loading and unloading our students. Mayor Kedley told me he is going to bring the Safe Walks to Schools program to our bus stops, but that will take time.
Another big change for this year is the location of drop and pickup at the two campuses. At the elementary the busses will be using Circle Drive. There should be no cars at all around circle drive. Parents picking up and dropping their children will be on the south and west sides. We hope to keep the busses out of the Jefferson and Cass Street intersections with Kossuth. My hope is that alleviates some of the congestion problems of the past.
The high school campus will be having busses drop off and pickup on the new concrete pad east of the school. Busses will approach the school on the new road and leave on the new road. There should be no other vehicular traffic in the bus area on the east side of the school. Private vehicles should approach the school on Shaw Street and can make the loop around the school. Student parking will be in the same big parking lot as before. Once again this keeps the busses separate from all the other traffic during loading and unloading making for safer transportation.
We are planning this school year while in a pandemic. This is requiring us to have a plan 2 and a plan 3. New to this year will be more sanitation on the busses at prescribed times and a need for all to wear facemasks. Plan 1 has us going back to school as usual and the busses pretty full.
It is possible we could start school with plan 2. With guidance from Public Health if the school needs to implement the Return to Learn Hybrid plan, transportation will change greatly. Transportation of elementary and middle school students that live within two miles from their campus and High School students three miles from their campus is a courtesy that could no longer be provided. Those students would be required to find an alternate method to get to and from school. Elementary and middle school students living over two miles from their campus and high school students living over three miles from their campus will still be transported as required by law. This plan would reduce the number of students transported to allow physical distancing on the buses.
Plan 3 is the Virtual Learning plan and would eliminate transportation.
I am hoping to return to school as normal and get our students in the classroom. Whatever this fall brings I am committed to the safe transport of our young folks. Please drive carefully and defensively as the school year begins. If you are walking or biking follow the rules and be safe. Caution, courtesy and patience goes a long way.
Bus barn phone number 641-342-4892