The learning curve


Kana Chung, Copy editor

Number one: we’re constantly learning. We truly are trying to provide the best service that we possibly can for everybody,”

— Mr. Brian Warner

It’s Thursday, Aug. 8, and the first day of
Willow Klein’s freshman year. She sees a bright, shiny bus roll up to her stop. The driver can be heard clearly over the brand-new overhead speaker. She experiences a mixture of excitement and anxiety as her high school career officially begins.  

For Klein, that morning was a pleasurable experience: her bus arrived in a timely manner, she was the second stop, which left her plenty of time to listen to music on her way to school, and she was eager to see what the new year would bring for her.

“But in sixth grade, I remember, on transition day, the bus was late and I didn’t like that. It used to be late a lot, too, so I like [the buses] this year more,” Klein said.

Unfortunately, Klein is among the more fortunate of bus-goers on this particular morning. With the Francis Howell School District’s purchase of its own buses this year, many students and their families have encountered difficulties throughout the beginning of the school year. 

Many parents have been outraged at the the issues their children have experienced with the new bus routes developed by the district, such as the distances students have to walk to reach their assigned bus stop. The district’s Director of Transportation, Jennifer Simpson, says that this is due to state safety regulations.

“The State of Missouri has a guideline that requires bus stops to be a minimum of 500 feet apart. This is the distance that is required for a school bus to activate its warning lights,” Simpson explained. “This is a major safety issue as our industry has a major problem with motorists running our stop arms which creates a dangerous situation where students are struck by cars when crossing the street.”

Assistant Principal for grades 10-12, Mr. Brian Warner, assures that these precautions are necessary, and that safety is always the district’s primary concern.

“Safety is their number one importance. And sometimes some families don’t necessarily see it. It’s like, ‘Yeah, but we always had a stop here,’” Mr. Warner said. “If they don’t meet the guidelines for the safety, [and] for the equipment to be operating correctly, then they’re always going to err on the side of making sure that that’s done.”

Some of the confusion may also be due to students who have more than one home.

“One of the things that they’re primarily working on right now is not the first route, but some students have a dual household. So they are getting their second routes kind of put in place right now,” Mr. Warner said. “I may have routed, maybe, an additional 20 students, just from the first day of school to where we are right now.”

But with mistakes come lessons, and the district is making the effort to improve students’ experiences.

“This is a new system for our district and will take time to perfect.  All of the building staff are working diligently to update the travel information for every student, but that takes time and in some cases, additional communication with families,” Simpson said.

They are always fine-tuning their transportation system, and looking for feedback from the community for what needs to be fixed.

But above all, it is their goal to make sure families feel supported as they work toward the options that are best for them.

“And the biggest thing that I would like to to be known is: if there ever are questions with transportation, for families to get ahold of me… and I will support them as quickly as possible,” Mr. Warner said.