County Changes: Mess or Success?

LCPS Makes Changes Regarding Transportation and School Hours for the 2017-2018 School Year

Sleeping in an hour later is a great idea to some students; however, many bus riders may disagree. With long, disorganized bus rides, many students this year have a hard time arriving to school on time. In the 2017-2018 school year, Loudoun County implemented major changes throughout the public school system. Changes include school beginning and ending at a later time, and many transportation modifications.

Changes that directly affected Woodgrove are new lunch times, school beginning later, and DENtime being changed to eighth period.

Transportation was one of Loudoun County’s Public School major issues at the beginning of this school year. The shortage of about 150 bus drivers caused a total reroute of bus stops throughout Western Loudoun.

According to the Loudoun Times Mirror, LCPS has hired an outside consulting firm based in Montana, Edulog Logistics, Inc., to change existing bus routes in order to improve safety and bus ride length.

Wayde Byard, Loudoun County Public Schools spokesman said, “With an emphasis on safety, the Division of Transportation developed a bus routing optimization plan for the 2017-18 school year. The initial findings suggested the number of LCPS bus routes could be decreased from 394 to a range between 349 to 372. The maximum average headcount on each bus could be increased from 38 to 52, and the estimated average run time for each route could be decreased from 23 to 17 minutes.”

Some drivers even have two rounds on their morning routes, causing them to make two trips to and from school. Many busses arrive late to school, causing students to be tardy to their first block classes, and those who choose to eat breakfast at school, lose their opportunity to do so.

“This year the bus ride is no good, we are getting home an hour later than we did last year. We were also late to school for the first three weeks until they changed our stops to an earlier pick up time,” said junior Aiden Fitzwater.

To address the safety concerns that many families who live in rural areas were facing, the county had to take in account for the safety precautions due to the lack of sidewalks.

Assistant principal Tim Panagos said, “For instance, we don’t have sidewalks here and most of rural western Loudoun. You’re asking kids to walk down a dirt road with no sidewalks that’s only a lane and a half wide which puts them in harm’s way. But those are some criteria that maybe they did not have when they were inputing all of the data and that’s part of what they’re trying to gather, so you know it can only get better.”

Time modifications allow schools to start about fifteen to twenty minutes later, in order to accommodate for the extensive bus route changes in the surrounding areas. The extra fifteen minutes provides a buffer for bus drivers to pick up all of the students on their routes and arrive back to school on time.

With all of these changes there is still hope for improvement.

Tim Panagos said, “They [Loudoun County] collected the data and by the end of September, they were able to do some rerouting, and plug in some Western Loudoun criteria that probably wasn’t considered at first and then maybe make some adjustments.”