An understanding parent shared the wise words of her young child after being asked about her school day: "Every day the principals and teachers try something new to make pickup better. Nothing seems to work but they keep trying. Maybe tomorrow will be better." Indeed, solving the traffic, pickup, and bus issues that inherently plague the start of the school year is a challenge for school and district administrators alike but we hope our families know how hard we and our bus company are working to alleviate all concerns.
Smithfield Public Schools and Durham Bus Company are working together to resolve late bus issues. We are putting some new practices into place to expedite the end-of-day dismissal process. We know it has been difficult for families when they are not aware of what time the bus is approaching your stop. We are excited to share that the Bus Tracker App is available to all families at this time and allows parents to track the bus as it goes along the route.
You may download the Durham Bus Tracker App in the App Store. After download, choose Smithfield as your location and enter your child's school ID, which can be obtained from the school secretary.
There are many factors that contribute toward late bus runs so our team is working on many small changes that together will make a difference. Delays may result when there is no one at the bus stop and the bus has to return a student to a school. In order to avoid that, if there are no adults at the bus stop. In that case, buses were returning to the school and calling parents to pick up the child at the school. This loop back to the school then adds more time to the route, affecting the next bus run. What we plan to do, beginning on Monday, is to bring the child to the YMCA program at Pleasant View Elementary School. Parents can then pick up their child there. We are working with the YMCA to develop a fee structure for this service. Parents who want to sign up for the YMCA on a regular basis can reach out to the YMCA.
The bus dismissal procedure will also be expedited through a variety of means including:
Add name tags to the backpacks with the dismissal plans
Preparing PreK, K, and first grade for dismissal before the bell rings
Holding numbers for the buses by the bus monitors to help students find their correct bus
Printing the daily attendance for all individuals on bus duty so that buses don't wait for missing students for no reason
Share the bus tracker information with all families
Use bus tracker at the school so that we will know when the buses are arriving and we can call students to the buses sooner
Developing better procedures for utilizing the chevron parking
This is not the end of our list but we hope that continued improvements will lead to the quality of service all our families deserve.