By Charlie Brennan, Education News Colorado
The wheels are in motion for Denver Public Schools’ “Success Express,” a new bus shuttle system hitting the streets this fall for students enrolled in the district’s Far Northeast and Near Northeast school networks.
Excitement about the program is keen enough in the Near Northeast that an informational session and modest celebration was held Thursday at Bruce Randolph School, where about 20 parents and community organizers came together to tout its coming implementation – and to find out more about it.
In both the Far Northeast and Near Northeast, school buses will no longer make a traditional series of stops in neighborhoods – once in the morning and once in the afternoon. Instead, a fleet of DPS buses will circulate between area schools, offering students up to three chances to catch the one that will get them to their school of choice on time.
“I tell people that I personally believe it’s going to change the face of school bus transportation,” said Nita Reske, a DPS transportation services manager on hand at Bruce Randolph. “And I think it’s time that that happens. I used to always call it ‘destination education.’ That’s what school buses are for. We want to make sure we get our kids to school on time.”
Several NNE parents spoke at Thursday’s Bruce Randolph event, characterizing the program as something that will make a major difference in their lives and their school communities.
Parents excited about new transpo option
Ana Luisa Gallardo is a single mother in North Denver with three children, including one at Cole Arts & Science Academy, another at Gilpin Montessori and a third who will enter Gilpin Montessori next year. She said, “During the day, I take care of two babies. And with this new transportation system, I don’t have to worry about taking the babies out in the rain or the snow to pick up my daughters.”
Gallardo added, “I also have a daughter who has just two more years at Cole and, with this new system, she will have access to transportation to the high school of her choice.”
Martha Carranza, who has a child at Bruce Randolph, said that for students who have depended on RTD, “I was worried because it is very dangerous for the children coming from Globeville and also from Swansea,” adding that often, “the public buses from the city took so long, the kids were arriving late and sometimes missing classes altogether.”
And, said Carranza, “We also found it was difficult for parents to give money to their kids for the RTD because we don’t have extra money to spare. The economy is very bad. Now we are very happy that with the new transportation system, no child will have any excuse to miss school. This will help all children be in school, because they are tomorrow’s future.”
Key features of the shuttle program:
- The shuttle system will run longer hours, 6:30 to 9:30 a.m., then 2:30 to 6:30 p.m., facilitating longer and more flexible school days and schedules.
- Each bus will have two adults on board – the driver and a DPS aide, whose primary job will be to make sure students are getting on and off at the right spot, and doing so safely.
- ID tags worn by participating students will indicate what school they are attending.
- Students can get on or off any bus, at any stop, indicating their choices on a DPS “intent to ride form.”
- The shuttle affords three pick-up times, and three drop-off times, at each stop.
- On routes utilized by students across a broad range of ages, older students will be directed toward the rear, with younger students seated in the front.