Shorter ride times await NASD studentsPublished 12:05am Saturday, August 11, 2012
NATCHEZ — The wheels on the buses taking students to Natchez-Adams School District schools will be going round and round fewer times this year, but Durham officials say that’s a good thing for economic and efficiency reasons.
Because of the school district reorganization of elementary and middle schools approved earlier this year, school attendance zones and bus routes have changed for students in grades kindergarten through fifth grade.
The attendance zones are based on where students live and are intended to create residentially zoned elementary schools — similar to neighborhood schools.
Each school zone has been given a color. West Elementary is yellow; McLaurin is blue, and Frazier is green.
In the past, buses would often travel across town to pick up or drop off students with some staying on the bus for a few hours before getting to the school, Durham General Manager Jeremy Sutherland said.
“In some areas, we’d pick up the first kid at 5 a.m. and they’d have to sit on the bus for the whole route until they go to school,” Sutherland said. “And most times they’d be the last one getting off in the afternoon and wouldn’t get home until 5 p.m.”
But with the new attendance zones in place, Sutherland said buses won’t cross through the different zones so the new routes were created for maximum efficiency.
“Our overall goal is that the kids should be on the bus less time,” Sutherland said. “Anything we can do to not have a kid sitting on the bus for hours is a good thing.”
Sutherland said the new routes also mean less fuel is needed to power the vehicles.
“It’s definitely going to save gas and end up saving the district some money,” Sutherland said. “It’s going to be economical and efficient.”
And the change of routes is also new to the drivers who have been practicing the new routes for the past few weeks preparing for the first day of school on Aug. 20.
“We’ve been doing dry runs for a while now where the drivers run that route just like they would any other school day,” Sutherland said. “We do that every year, but this year we wanted to make sure everything was right.
“So far we’re not seeing any issues.”
With the first day of school nearing quickly, Sutherland said he urges parents to contact Durham if they are unsure about their children’s bus route or with any other questions.
“Nobody likes change, but once these routes get going and their kids don’t have to stay on the bus as long, I think everyone will be happy,” Sutherland said. “Anything we can do to help the parents through the change, we’re more than happy to do.”
Superintendent Frederick Hill said he also urges parents to be familiar with the new bus routes before the first day of school.
“We’ll be fine tuning the routes up until the first day, but we want to make sure we get the information out to parents as much as we can,” Hill said. “The new routes are going to make the buses efficient.”
Hill said maps illustrating which zone residents are located in are available at each elementary school and at the Braden Building at 10 Homochitto Street.
For more information regarding bus related concerns, contact Sutherland or Wayne Strickland at 601-445-2909.
On the new routes, some city streets will have two buses picking up and dropping off, but the students will attend different schools.
Notable changes include:
• Minor Street will have bus 40 going to West Elementary, and bus 14 going to Frazier Elementary.
Turning off Martin Luther King onto Minor Street, the left side will attend Frazier Elementary and the right side will attend West Elementary.
• D’Evereaux Drive up to O’Brien Street with cut off at McCabe Street back down East Franklin Street will attend McLaurin Elementary and those students will ride bus 11.
• Winston Hill, Fourth Street, Ouachita Street, Desoto Street and Auburn Avenue will attend West Elementary and ride bus 40.
• South Concord Avenue has changed to McLaurin Elementary zone and those students will ride bus 78.