Transportation Frequently Asked Questions
Barrow County Public Schools Transportation Department receives as many as 100 phone calls daily. Here are some answers to frequently asked questions.
- Sometimes the bus routes must be doubled out or run as a second load to or from the school due to the regular driver being absent.
- Traffic in the Winder area is increasingly complex.
- Drivers check buses before their routes and sometimes find mechanical problems that can cause delays and require driving another bus for that day. This can cause the bus to be non-punctual.
Please know that we are doing everything humanly possible to have all buses running on schedule everyday. In the event that your bus does not arrive as scheduled, please allow ten to thirty minutes before calling the transportation office or the school.
Behavioral expectations on the school bus are much like those in the classroom. Then, factor in the mobility of that "classroom" and traffic, added noise and the size of the "classroom" and you have a potential catastrophe if there are not clear expectations and enforcement. The behavioral expectations on the bus revolve around the individual rights of every person on the bus, including the driver and the collective rights of students and driver as it pertains to SAFETY. Anything that jeopardizes the safety of individuals on the bus is viewed as serious.
Most drivers have Bus rules or Expectations posted on the bus. When there is an infraction, a referral is turned into the school administrators, who are responsible for contacting the student and parent to solve the lack of compliance with bus expectations. The school administrator is solely responsible for consequences based on the incident as described by the driver and student. Most buses have video cameras, which are used to verify incidents. Our goal is never to deny any student transportation to and from school, but we must maintain safety for all students.
It is simply a numbers problem. There are as many 50-70 students on each bus. That is at least 50-70 phone calls in a short time frame to parents who are quite possibly at the bus stop with their children. It is just not feasible. Please know that there is a bus on the way and that we will do everything humanly possible to transport your child to and from school in a timely manner every day. If your scheduled bus is more than ten minutes late; please allow for the time that it requires for the route to be driven as a second load.
School buses come in various sizes ranging from 25 to 36 feet long, 20,000-26,000 pounds, 12-13 feet high and 6-9 feet wide. The length is what limits the school bus to be maneuvered in cu-de-sacs and tight places. Smaller buses can turn in a shorter radius, while longer buses cannot maneuver the same circle without backing the bus, which is avoided in routing if possible. Residents sometimes park trucks, boats, and trailers on the streets. Children leave their bicycles, skateboards, and basketball backboards on the streets. Although our drivers are trained to parallel park their bus, some subdivisions are not designed with school bus transportation in mind. Please know that we will design school bus routes to be safe and convenient to the majority of students within the limits of time and physics.
Seat assignments are a positive way for the ride to be consistent and safe. It is also our policy for elementary and middle school students to be assigned to a specific seat. This aids the driver with discipline and learning each student's names at the beginning of the school year. We trust our drivers to let us know when this policy is no longer effective.
To avoid multiple problems, the driver requires a note, signed by the parent and school administrator to alter the destination of students. This allows the drivers to focus on driving and safety instead of having to decide whether the student should be allowed to change their routine and get off with a friend or ride to an entirely different neighborhood. This should be the decision of the parent. The driver has no other way to verify that the parent has made this decision. This policy avoids confusion and the chance of students getting lost or running away.
If the schools close during the day, the students will be sent home on their regular bus or daycare van unless other directions are on file at the student's school. IT WILL BE IMPOSSIBLE TO ACCEPT PHONED IN DIRECTIONS THAT DAY UNDER THESE CIRCUMSTANCES. Please give your child's school written instructions regarding inclement weather transportation ASAP.
Decisions regarding each bus route are made by careful planning based on information from the school registration, previous similar routes, and Department of Transportation data. Most routes are fixed during the summer months and changes are made after the first two weeks of school, if not sooner. The more current information we are given, the better decisions regarding specific routes we can make. Distance from school, number of buses and drivers, and grouping of students and neighborhoods are factors considered also. Sometimes it is just not possible to have the exact number of students on every run. State and National guidelines allow for up to 20% over capacity seating. Our guidelines are as follows:
Barrow County’s Bus Passenger Seating Guidelines
Bus Seat Capacity Grades K-6
66 Seat Bus - 66 Students
72 Seat Bus - 71 Students
Bus Seat Capacity Grades 7-12
66 Seat Bus - 49 Students
72 Seat Bus - 54 Students
Zero Tolerance means that when a discipline infraction occurs under the policy, the student is subject to a mandated suspension with NO exceptions. Specific zero tolerance infractions, which include drug, weapons, alcohol, tobacco, and bullying, and the suspension designated for each offense are listed in the Barrow County School System policy manual. This information is also available in local school handbooks, student folders, and our website.
We are always looking for good drivers to train to become school bus drivers. We frequently offer training classes to obtain your Commercial Driver's License. For more information, please visit our Employment Opportunities page.
For more information, contact our transportation office at 770-867-2783.
A committee of people already involved in a student's education determines transportation needs. After it has been determined that the student would benefit from being transported apart from the mainstreamed students, the teacher will complete and send a special needs transportation request to our office for processing.
Three to five (3-5) days are needed to obtain all emergency information, process routing information, contact drivers and communicate with parents and other professionals involved.
Our goal, for students within the Barrow County School System, is no more than one hour.
SAFETY is our main goal and concern. Changes may be granted for consistent schedules within the child's regular route.
Special needs transportation is granted in accordance with a student's needs as a related service to the IEP (Individualized Education Plan). Students who receive an education without an IEP are provided transportation through conventional means.
Yes, our Dispatcher is available from 6 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m by phone at 770-867-2783.
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