Recently, the Board of Directors shared the near-final transportation plans with the school community. If you missed the email, please check your inbox with a note titled “2018-19 Transportation Update” on Friday, February 23. You can also find more detailed information by clicking here.
As expected, there were a small number of questions submitted to the firstname.lastname@example.org email address. We’ve summarized those questions and provide answers below. As you review this information, as well as last week’s email and website link, please keep a few things in mind:
The transportation plan considers many variables, including parent survey results, costs, and academic needs.
Per the requirements of the $2.9M bond funding that’s adding five classrooms and a computer lab to DLS at Whiteman, Whiteman must become/remain an elementary school. This means that without DLS at Gilpin becoming a reality, our middle school students would be at CityPoint Church until a better alternative could be found. Had the CityPoint-middle school alternative happened, the school, administration and Board would have be challenged with nearly the identical decision framework with regard to bus times, transportation distances, bell times, ridership costs, etc., while also housing our middle school in the church facility.
Overall bus transportation costs will increase by at least 213 percent in SY 2018-19, and this is not because of a change from CityPoint Church to Gilpin. Rather, DLS has been grandfathered into per-mile rates by DPS Transportation for the past few years and this is ending.
As our middle school grows, so do the transportation and programmatic needs for the middle school students and families. Historically, DLS has had smaller middle school numbers, but as our language immersion model proves itself, and our academic success becomes more established, we’re keeping more and more of our students through 8th grade – which is great. An increasing population of students underscores the need to maintain impartiality and equitability in how we assign bell times, distribute busing resources, etc.
By law, the State of Colorado mandates a longer day for middle school students. As such, and reinforced by the transportation survey results that many parents prefer using DLS at Whiteman as a drop off point for their middle schoolers, we needed to have a longer day at DLS at Gilpin rather than DLS at Whiteman.
Here is a summary of the small number of questions we received, and answers to each question:
Q) Is there a direct route from DLS at Gilpin to DLS at Whiteman in the afternoon? And if not, what are the options for students at DLS at Whiteman to do while they wait for the Gilpin bus and parents to pick them up?
A) For parents with Kindergarten through 3rd graders at DLS at Whiteman, with siblings arriving from DLS at Gilpin on the bus and who wish to have one pick-up time, the K-3 graders will be able to utilize Fun Club or Discovery Link while they wait for the Gilpin busses to arrive. Conversely, parents can make two pick-ups.
Scholarships will be available for parents who need financial help with Fun Club or Discovery Link fees.
Q) Do you have an idea what time buses will depart DLS at Whiteman to get to DLS at Gilpin in the morning? Conversely, do you have estimated arrival times for busses arriving in the afternoon at DLS at Whiteman coming from DLS at Gilpin?
A) We don’t have exact times yet and are still negotiating final details on start and end times with DPS, which will affect when buses leave. We expect to have this information very soon and will send it out to our families as soon as we have it.
Q) I’m surprised at the proposed cost of the bus ($150 per child, per year). Don’t you need a headcount at DLS at Gilpin before you can anticipate costs?
A) Per student ridership fees have never fully offset annual transportation costs, and similarly, next year will not cover all the transportation fees. The proposed ridership fees are only a small offset to help cushion the school’s large investment. SY 2017-18 bus fees were: $200 for the first child, and $50 for each additional sibling. This was a flat rate regardless of whether a student only took the bus in the morning or afternoon.
As noted in the summary atop this note, overall transportation fees will increase more than 200 percent next year for some students. However, when surveyed in January a large portion of our school community said they still appreciated the transportation program and were willing to pay for it.
- Twenty-two percent of parents said they were willing to pay $200-$250 per student;
- Twelve percent would be willing to pay $250-$300 per student; and
- Eleven percent would be willing to pay $300 or more per student.
In other words, 45 percent of parents were willing to pay more than $200 per student, but the transportation team, Board and Administration are still only asking for $150 per student. For parents utilizing only an AM or PM route for one student, the annual costs is lower by $50. For parents utilizing an AM and PM route for one student, the annual cost is higher by $100.
We recognize that families with multiple children attending DLS may see an appreciable increase in annual costs without availability of a sibling discount, and we will continue to offer financial assistance on a case by case basis for families in need.
Q) Why is there a difference in dismissal times between the two campuses? Can both schools end at the same time?
A) Unfortunately, different dismissal times between campuses is unavoidable. Middle school standards set by the State of Colorado require 1080 instructional hours per year, whereas grade school instructional hours are 990. This need for more hours, coupled with a later start time means DLS at Gilpin will need a longer day and complicates pick-up for parents at DLS at Whiteman. We recognize that having different dismissal times between campuses is a challenge for some families. We would encourage families in this situation to participate in our carpool (“Mini Bus”) program to get students picked up at the end of the day. Click here to sign up.
Q) A 3:45 dismissal seems like a long day for a 4th grader. Please explain.
A) Actually, the 4th graders at Gilpin next year will only have a 5 minutes longer school day than they do right now. Part of this is because DLS at Gilpin will have an opening bell that is about 25 minutes later than DLS at Whiteman. And, as soon as we firm up bell times, transportation plans, and how we’ll utilize the common spaces between grades (gym, lunchroom, playground, etc.) we’ll be looking for other ways to break up the school day for our 4th and 5th graders.
Q) The Stapleton bus stop was moved from Green Way Park (Ulster/26th Avenue) to Fred Thomas Park (26th Avenue, between Roslyn and Quebec). Why was the change made and are steps being taken to ensure a safe drop off and pick-up?
A) The change to the pickup and drop-off locations for the Stapleton bus stop was based upon two criteria: safety and costs savings. By moving the stop, the school will save more than $33,000 in annual bus costs. Considering the large increase in overall transportation expenses next year, all opportunities for savings are being looked at closely.
More importantly, Fred Thomas Park offers a safer drop off and pick up location. The current plan is for parents and students to use the parking lot at 26th and Roslyn, and board busses that are parked east facing on 26th Avenue. DPS Transportation reserves the right to make adjustments, but as currently mapped, this will eliminate children crossing the street, intra-intersection U-turns, and narrow-street driving challenges that are a consistent challenge at Green Way Park. The park also offers kids and parents a great place to play and socialize on nice days.