Derry School Board Look at Bus Route Adjustments

By Alex Malm

Some very interesting numbers were revealed about the transportation needs of the school district during the Tuesday, Nov. 15, Derry School Board meeting.
Derry Cooperative School District Transportation Coordinator, Clifton Dancy, explained that he received an email from School Board member, Derick Anderson, asking about buses for middle school sports, which has been a concern throughout the school year.
Dancy said that it led him to do a “deep dive” into their transportation needs.
“Everything I say tonight is based on spreadsheets,” said Dancy.
Dancy said when looking at what their needs are for transportation, it’s based strictly on the numbers.
“There’s no emotion, there’s no personal stuff in it, it’s all numbers,” said Dancy.
Dancy stated examining the different schools he learned many of their schools have more bus routes than they need.
For example, at Derry Village, the school currently has five buses running with a maximum ridership of 229 students and a maximum capacity of 260 students.
“We’re running at 88 percent capacity at Derry Village,” said Dancy.
At East Derry, they have seven buses running with a maximum ridership of 190 students. The capacity of the buses is 364 students, which is at 52 percent capacity.
“They really, by the numbers, only need four buses,” said Dancy.
Dancy told the School Board that ultimately all of the schools have more bus routes than they need.
“We have quite an overage of buses,” said Dancy.
Dancy explained that the routes are planned based on the different addresses students have and isn’t based on who signs up to ride the bus.
He said by the time they figure out who’s going to ride the bus or not, it’s too late to change the routes.
It was pointed out by Dancy that their board policy is currently to allow students who live within a mile radius of the school, while the state law only requires transportation within two miles.
He said if they were to change that policy they would need a significant amount less of buses.
“In this model we would only need about 23 buses,” said Dancy.
When it comes to middle school sports buses, Dancy stated the coaches and athletic directors want to have more consistency than having buses for some games and then not others.
“They would rather have no buses at all rather than inconsistency,” said Dancy.
Dancy said ultimately the main issue with the middle school buses is that they would be running at the same time as the elementary school afternoon buses and they don’t have enough to cover both.
Dancy hopes to improve their ridership system going forward. He added that one of the ways would be by having a survey during the spring that would ask families if their students would be taking the bus or not, saying that it would give them a much better idea of what they would need for buses the following year.