Dexter Community Schools are thinking about no-transportation zones as it struggles with bus driver shortage
Dexter Community Schools is looking to use no-transportation zones in its effort to address issues with not having enough bus drivers, which has become a national problem at schools.
At the Nov. 6 board of education meeting, Dexter Community Schools (DCS) administration presented a proposal to create a no-transport zone within the city of Dexter and a small area near the high school (for high school students only). The Board of Education discussed and provided feedback on the proposal.
The presentation given began with this overview of the issue:
“Dexter Community Schools continues to feel the national shortage of bus drivers. Last year, DCS prepared a series of contingency plans to provide consistency of bus service for our families. Most of the contingency plans utilized and/or developed were handled internally and were created so as not to disrupt service to any students. This worked for the majority of last year and there were only two week we had to shut down a bus route. This year the situation is worse.”
This is happening even with DCS raising pay, recruiting and training. The no-transportation zone plan still needs to be finalized by the school board, but it’s expected to begin in early January.
DCS Superintendent Chris Timmis sent a message out a message on this one Nov. 9.
Dear Dexter Community Schools Families, Students, and Staff,
For the past several years, Dexter Community Schools has been struggling to staff all of the bus routes that we have historically provided to our families. Since 2020, Dexter Community Schools has been short eleven of the drivers needed to fill all of our bus routes. As a result, we have been working under a rotation of route shutdowns throughout the district while also working to hire, retain, and recruit additional bus drivers. Despite aggressive efforts to recruit bus drivers, following up on every lead, and using creative strategies to fully staff the department, we have reached the point where we are left with few options to continue offering bus service for every neighborhood and area of the school district.
In August, the Board of Education discussed the challenge of staffing bus routes for the entire district. At that time, the discussion focused on short-term changes that included having our mechanics and dispatcher drive buses in addition to their normal job duties. It also included the potential weekly rotation of shutdowns that we have been operating under this school year. Throughout this semester, DCS administration has been working on a plan to provide stability for as many families and students as possible. Every day, our buses travel almost 1,100 miles throughout our 84-square mile school district. DCS is one of the few districts that provides bus service for every student in the district. State law allows school districts to utilize a 1.5 mile no-transport zone, which DCS has not considered until this critical time.
The current system of shutting down rotating routes per week or by day is challenging for our students, our families, and our district. Therefore, on Monday 11/6, the administration presented a proposal to create a no-transport zone within the City of Dexter and a small area near the high school (for high school students only). The Board of Education discussed and provided feedback on the proposal.
Dexter Community Schools takes great pride in working in collaboration with our families in the best interest of all students. In line with this commitment, Dexter Community Schools is hosting three community forums related to the proposed no-transport zone for busing. These forums will be held both in person and via zoom with times in the evening and during the day to accommodate family work schedules.
No-Transport Zone forums will be held on:
- Tuesday, November 28, 7:30pm IN PERSON at the Mill Creek Cafeteria
- Wednesday, November 29, 12:00pm via ZOOM: click this link to register for the 12pm webinar
- Wednesday, November 29, 7:30pm via ZOOM: click this link to register for the 7:30pm webinar
Families only need to attend one of the forums.
Communication is being sent, including details of the proposal, to the entire School District via email and on our app and website. In addition, families within the proposed no-transport zone will receive a mailing to their homes inviting them to the in-person or Zoom forums. Supplemental information can be found on our website: No-Transport Zone.
Thank you in advance for your understanding and collaboration as we work to address this challenging issue and provide consistency for Dexter families.
Christopher Timmis, EdD
Here’s a look at the zones:
To learn more, go to https://www.dexterschools.org/no-transport-zone.