12465 Warwick Boulevard, Newport News, VA 23606  Phone: (757) 591-4500

 

 

Transportation Frequently Asked Questions

1. Who is responsible for School Bus Safety Training in the classroom?

The classroom teacher is responsible for teaching students school bus safety. The Virginia Administrative Code 20-70-110 states: Pupil rider safety instruction shall be included in the school curriculum, including demonstration and practices of safety procedures.

At the Pre-K-1st grade levels, initial safety and training shall occur during the first week of school and additional training on a periodic basis during the school year.

Emergency exit drills shall be practiced by all pupil riders at least twice a year, the first occurring during the first 30 instructional days.

A copy of bus rider safety rules shall be sent to parents at the beginning of the school year. The information shall include a request that parents or their designee accompany their young children to and from the bus stop.

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2. Can you request a field trip between 6:00 and 9:15 a.m. and/or between 1:45 and 4:30 p.m.?

No. These are peak times for Pupil Transportation. During these hours, our primary focus is transporting students safely to and from school. As you know, we operate on a tiered bus routing system and every available driver is assigned to a bus run during this peak period. Wednesdays are also not good days for scheduling field trips due to the early dismissal of elementary school students. Transportation resources are very limited on Wednesdays and therefore cannot do field trips. A recommended list of charter bus companies will be posted on Transportation’s web site. Also, requests for unscheduled student Transportation from school to home during the school day should only be made after the parent has indicated an inability to pick the student up from school. School bus transportation should be a last resort only.

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3. What is the best way to assist parents who need a bus stop for a newly registered student?

First, ensure that Transportation information has been properly entered into eSIS. Second, use WebQuery to look up the student’s address to determine the closest existing bus stop. If the child lives within the school zone, there will probably be a bus stop that is within .3 of a mile from the student’s home. If a new stop has to be created, Transportation, once it receives the request will provide the new bus stop within 72 hours.

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4. When is it appropriate to submit a request for a bus stop change?

A request for a bus stop change should be submitted only when the distance from the student’s home to the bus stop exceeds three-tenths (0.3) of a mile or if there is a change of address.

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5. Should schools request Transportation go back to a bus stop to pick up students who have missed the bus?

Students should be encouraged to be at the bus stop at least 10 minutes before and after the posted stop time. Transportation, with the Director of Transportations approval, will only be able to go back to a bus stop after all morning runs are completed (after 9:15 A.M.).

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6. Is student behavior on the bus viewed differently than in the classroom?

No, the standards should be the same. School begins when the bus arrives at the bus stop. The standard or expected behavior for students on a school bus, is that every student will be seated properly and remain seated throughout the bus ride. This standard is necessary to ensure the safety of our students and drivers. Improper student behavior is the number one distraction for school bus drivers and the primary cause for crashes. Your support, in maintaining bus discipline, is critical. School bus drivers are only required to drive the school bus. Bus drivers do not discipline students and therefore refer bus discipline to the school administration.

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7. Who should I contact about bus issues at my school?

Each school is assigned a Key Driver and an Area Supervisor. They are Transportation’s liaison with the schools. Each school should have an appointed bus coordinators. They are the school’s liaison with Transportation. These personnel are committed to assisting schools with ensuring safety and to resolve all school bus issues. Of course, if you need further assistance, a phone call to Transportation at 881-5052 can put you in touch with someone who can help.

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8. Who is responsible for the three card system?

The school is. Each school is responsible for ensuring that kindergarten and pre-school students (to include PEEP) are individually tagged (with student name, school, home room, bus name and /or route number and bus stop) before a students get on the bus. This tag must be on the student; not the book bag. Schools are responsible for providing each parent with three yellow cards that have the student’s name, school bus route number and bus stop on the card. If the cards are lost, the schools should replace the lost cards for a nominal fee. If a student is not met at the bus stop or there is no yellow card, the student will be returned to school. Frequent returns to school should warrant a corrective conference with the parent.

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9. Who is eligible for school bus transportation?

Most people are surprised to learn that there are no requirements for a school district to provide school bus transportation to and from school. However, Newport News like many other school districts provides school bus transportation services as valuable service to our students and parents. All students who live four-tenths (0.4) of a mile or more from their assigned school are eligible for school bus transportation. Students living less than four-tenths (0.4) of a mile from their school may be in a “no school bus zone”, and are not eligible for transportations services.

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10. How will I know bus stop times and where my child will catch the bus?

Contact the assigned school. Each year, schools schedule open house activities where bus stop information is provided. Also, bus stop information is on the school division web site at: sbo.nn.k12.va.us. Parents may access the web site for bus stop information and/or contact the school for bus stop information.

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11. Who should I contact with transportation questions or concerns?

Your child’s school is the best place to call first for information about school bus stops and transportation concerns.

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12. Who is responsible for my child’s safety at the bus stop?

Parents are responsible for bus stop safety. Parents are encouraged to monitor their child at the bus stop. Make sure that you and your child have a back up plan should the bus not arrive at the bus stop. Remind your child to stand on the sidewalk or the edge of the street by the curb, avoid standing on private property, and be watchful of traffic. Never talk to anyone he or she does not know. Students and parents are asked to report any suspicious activity, or anything else that makes them feel uncomfortable, to school administrators and the police. Parents are strongly encouraged to walk with their children to and from the bus stop.

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13. What are the walking distances to a school bus stop?

In general, a student may walk up to 3 tenths of a mile to and from a school bus stop. However, magnet school students, activity students, summer school students, and athletic students may walk distances greater than three-tenths (0.3) of a mile to and from a school bus stop.

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14. How is the location of a bus stop determined?

The student’s address, which is in the student information data base (eSIS), and School Board bus stop policy determine the location of the bus stop.

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15. Can a child be picked up or dropped off at an alternate address?

Yes, with a note from the principal to the school bus driver for each request. Each school has a list of approved school bus stops. The principal may approve alternative drop offs at any of these approved school bus stops with a note to the school bus driver. Also, contact your school for a list of in-zone frequently used childcare facilities. When the principal approves a request, that a student be dropped off at an alternate location, he or she is assuming the responsibility that this student will be placed on the correct bus and that the proper arrangements have been made at the alternate bus stop to receive this student. Generally, this is a one day approval and is not a permanent change. A permanent change must be approved by Transportation. For example, if a request was made for every Wednesday, then it would have to be approved by Transportation. A student may not depart the bus other than at his or her assigned stop unless the bus driver is given a note signed by the school principal.

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16. What if the bus does not arrive to pick up my child?

Each child should arrive at the school bus stop 10 minutes before the designated pick-up time. Please allow at least 10 minutes after the bus is due at the bus stop for variations in traffic or other delays. If the bus does not arrive within 10 minutes of the designated time, the parent may call the Pupil Transportation Department (881-5052) for further information. Please provide the following information: (1) the name of the school the child attends, (2) the child’s name, and (3) the location of the bus stop.

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17. Will my child be safe on the school bus?

Yes! School buses are the safest form of transportation in the United States. Your child is much safer in a school bus than in your own car. The school bus is designed for safety. We maintain high safety standards and expectations from our students and drivers. Our drivers maintain excellent driving records in order to serve our students. We are constantly striving to improve safety each and everyday. On a daily basis we transport a very large number of passengers, and accidents will sometimes occur on school buses just as on other kinds of vehicles.

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18. Will the bus leave the bus stop without my child if she/he is not waiting at the bus stop location?

Yes! The student must be waiting at his/her school bus stop. Remember the bus does not wait for the children.

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19. Will the bus driver honk the horn to let me know the bus is at the bus stop?

No. If the bus driver arrives early at a bus stop, the driver will park at the stop until the departure time and then pull away. The driver will not use the horn to attract attention.

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20. Can I ride the school bus with my child?

No. In general and for liability reasons, the only pssengers allowed on a school bus are Newport News school students, bus drivers, bus attendants, and certain other individuals in the performance of school division business.

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21. I can’t see my child’s bus stop from my house. How can I get the bus stop moved closer?

Bus stops are placed at centralized locations in the community that can be safely accessed by a significant number of students to minimize the time length and mileage of the bus run. Also, stop locations give consideration to other students who, over time, will move into or depart the neighborhood. As long as the bus stop is within 3 tenths of a mile from your home it is within School Board Policy. If you have concerns about your child’s safety you are encouraged to accompany your child to the bus stop or arrange for a neighborhood buddy to walk with your child.

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22. How long may a child be required to ride on a bus?

There are no time limits set by School Board Policy. We attempt to keep bus runs less than 60 minutes. However, there are occasions when this is not practical based on the distances, number of stops, and number of students required to be transported to and from a school. Because of these factors, some bus runs can be in excess of 60 minutes.

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23. Why can’t the bus stop in front of my house?

The overwhelming consideration in determining the location of the bus stop is the safety of our students. Bus stops are placed in locations where they will provide a safe and convenient location for students while helping us route our buses in the most efficient manner possible. Bus drivers cannot make unauthorized bus stops. Please don’t ask them to stop at a location other than an authorized bus stop.

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24. How many students can fit on a school bus?

The number of students a school bus may carry is determined by its size. We use 64 and 72 passenger rated school buses, and our intent is to fully utilize all the space on all the buses in our fleet. As a general rule, we plan for the following riders on 64 and 72 passenger school buses (the number of students on a bus may deviate from these guidelines):

Grade Level 64 Passenger Bus 72 Passenger Bus
Elementary School 62 70
Middle School 54 60
High School 42 48

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25. I see buses all the time with only a few children on them. What are they doing?

We have many programs in Newport News Public Schools that require students to be transported a considerable distance. When transporting students to these special programs, the length of time of the run sometimes makes it impossible to fully utilize the capacity of the school bus. These “light loads” include magnet, alternative, and vocational programs with limited enrollment.

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26. Why does my bus come so early?

It is a challenge trying to coordinate the schedules and activities for more than 400 school buses and over 32,000 students. Bus routes are computerized to run as efficient as possible. Student loads and the distances to the schools are only two of the factors that go into determining the routes and start times. The schools start time is another factor. One major consideration in determining routes and trip times is traffic. Roads in Newport News are becoming more congested with 70,000 vehicles per day on some streets. Also, 80% of our schools have cross zone students who must be transported to and from school from opposite ends of the city. All of these factors can result in the need for earlier pick up times.

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27. My child has special needs. Who do I contact to make arrangements to get my child picked up?

Contact your child’s school. The school will contact the School Division Special Needs Department and a Case Manager will be assigned for your child. The Case Manager will assist you in determining the appropriate transportation services for your child. Transportation services for special needs children are documented as a component to the child’s Individual Education Plan (IEP).

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28. Why is my special needs child’s bus schedule changing again?

Special needs transportation services offer the challenges of frequent transportation changes due to the number of students entering and exiting special needs programs throughout the school year. In many cases the individual student needs are changed by the IEP committees requiring transportation changes. Since the 900 special needs customers share in the use of 65 school buses, a change for one student may impact a route change for many other students. When these changes are made, bus drivers notify parents with the new pick up and drop off times. This is a dynamic process, as we seek to make changes as quickly as possible, and at the same time maintain continuity of transportation service for all 900 students involved.

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29. I’m at home, but the driver will not let my special needs child off the bus until I come to the bus door. Can you tell the driver to just open the door and let my child off?

ur teams of special needs drivers take pride in the transportation of special needs students. Due to the Pupil Transportation Department guidelines and for the safety of your child, parents must come to the bus before the special needs student will be allowed off the bus. The student will be brought back to school, if a responsible person is not at the bus stop to receive the student.

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30. Who is responsible for keeping my child’s wheelchair in good repair?

Parents are responsible for wheelchair repair.

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31. Will the bus driver transport my child if the wheelchair does not meet standards?

No. Bus drivers are instructed not to transport any wheelchair which does not meet standards.

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32. Where do I find the routes, departure times, etc. for activity and athletic buses?

The information for these services may be found at the school your child attends.

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33. What happens if my child breaks the bus rules?

The disciplinary consequences on the school bus for inappropriate behavior depend on the infraction. It is important that every student follow the rules for riding a school bus. It is essential that a student not compromise the safety of the school bus, the other passengers or the school bus driver. A school bus is treated the same way as a classroom with respect to disciplinary infractions. The consequences may range from a driver/student conference, driver/parent conference, to change of seating. In cases where the infraction is significant, bus drivers will write disciplinary referrals and refer the student to the school principal for disciplinary actions. Please refer to your student’s Rights and Responsibility Handbook.

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34. What can be done to improve school bus safety?

Education and knowledge will keep our children safe. The children will be safer by knowing and following the bus safety rules. Parents knowledgeable in school bus safety will insist that their children cooperate with the bus driver to ensure a safe ride. The informed public will be aware and comply with the law by not passing a stopped school bus with red lights flashing. Parents/guardians are strongly encouraged to accompany their children to and from the bus stop. This is very important, safety is greatly enhanced when students are accompanied to and from the bus stop.

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35. My child left a coat on the bus. How does he or she get it back?

Drivers check their buses after every bus run. Items left on the bus may be claimed at the bus lot at the end of the day, and/or returned to the child the next day by the driver. You can help by labeling all of your child’s school belongings with the child’s name and school. The school division assumes no liability for items left on the school bus.

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36. Why are school bus seats spaced so close together?

The basic purpose in spacing school bus seats so closely is to contain the child in a cushioned compartment with only a minimum amount of space between energy-absorbing surfaces. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) determined that the safest and most practical arrangement for school bus seating would be a “compartmentalized” concept where seats are placed close together.

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37. Why aren’t seat belts required on school buses?

Seat belts are not required on school buses because research by the Department of Transportation (DOT) and others determine that compartmentalization was a better solution. Compartmentalization is more manageable. Compartmentalization works equally well for 1, 2, or 3 students per seat. Compartmentalization works whether students have fully developed abdominal areas or not. Compartmentalization, once it has done the energy-absorbing job, leaves the student free to escape the bus.

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38. Is my child’s bus equipped with a video camera?

Each school bus is equipped with a “dummy camera system” in which a live camera may be installed at any given time. At this time all new buses are purchased with video cameras as standard equipment.

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39. Why don’t you have an air condition system on my child’s bus?

All new special needs buses are purchased with air condition systems. Normally, extreme temperatures may be experienced during the last two weeks of school. All of our buses have white roofs designed to help keep the heat out.

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40. Why are buses sometimes late?

School bus drivers have the same reasons as other motorists for being late. Traffic delays, weather conditions, accidents or driver illness are a few of the reasons. School buses have mechanical problems that cause delays. Also buses may be operational but a critical safety device such as red lights may be malfunctioning, making it unsafe to pick up and drop off children. Finally when a bus is late all follow-on runs performed by that bus will most likely be late.

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41. Do I need to stop for a school bus when its red lights are flashing in a parking lot or elsewhere?

Yes. Please remember that school buses stop frequently to pick up and drop off children. Use caution. You must stop for a school bus with its red lights on. It is the law.

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42. What is the three (3) card system?

Several years ago, parents come to us with a concern that it was unsafe to release pre-school children at a bus stop without a parent at the bus stop. We addressed the parent concerns with the three (3) card system. Each pre-school, PEEP and kindergarten student is tagged, and each parent is provided three (3) cards with student information. The parent may keep a card and give the other cards to caretakers authorized to receive the pre-school, PEEP or kindergarten student. No card, no student! The student will be returned to school. It is required that a responsible person be at the bus stop. It a student is returned to school more than once, school bus privileges may be rescinded.

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43. What is a school bus “Danger Zone”?

The Danger Zone is a 10-foot wide area around a school bus where children are in the most danger of being hit and injured by the school bus. Children must stay 10-feet away from the bus to be out of the Danger Zone. Children should never go behind the bus. If a student must cross the street they should take five giant steps in front of the bus before crossing the street so the driver can see them. When crossing in front of the bus, the student should always remain alert for cars (someone running the red lights). Never approach the bus when it is preparing to stop. Wait for the bus to come to a complete stop, and the bus drivers give you the OK, before approaching the school bus.

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44. How do I contact the Pupil Transportation Department?

You may call 881-5052 between the hours of 6:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. for assistance.

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45. My family moved during the school year, who do I call with the new transportation information?

Contact your school. The school needs to keep student records up to date. The new student records are automatically forwarded to the transportation department nightly. The school has a list of active school bus stops for your use.

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