Astoria School District's new school bus schedule is complete and available at each school

The Astoria School District transportation plan, which underwent a major overhaul this summer to accommodate the new grade configurations, is complete. Parents can pick up information on bus stops and route times at each school.

Under the plan, student bus rides will be less than an hour, and in-town students will likely see 30 to 35 minute rides.

Students in rural areas will be picked up and brought to designated points where they will then board a different bus that will take them directly to their schools.

"We're not transferring kids off buses and making them sit," said Craig Hoppes, Lewis and Clark Elementary principal. "They are being transferred from bus to bus by adults."

The schedule has been drawn up following the controversial restructuring effort which sparked an unsuccessful school board recall earlier this year.

The six rural routes will pick up kindergartners through high school seniors. The district is putting monitors on K-12 buses, at least for the start of the school year, to maintain order and to help with switching vehicles, said Joannie Zielinski, director of transportation.

Town-area routes will be divided by school. First through third graders will board buses to John Jacob Astor and fourth through sixth grade students will board buses heading to Lewis and Clark Elementary.

Kindergartners will be in with the elementary routes, which is how the district has handled its youngest members before, Zielinski said.

High school and middle school students will board the bus together.

Construction and paving, route changes that come with new students entering the district and the fact that this is a new plan are all potential complications. Route times may be slightly longer until the district settles in; however the plan's architects are optimistic.

"I'm happy how it looks on paper," said Hoppes, who helped work on the transportation plan. "Loading 40 to 60 kids on a bus and getting them out on time can be a challenge, but we'll do the best we can."

Zielinski said the district stayed within its budget when developing the plan.

"There's more routes, but we have fewer rural routes, so we're more efficient," she said.

According to the district, bus routes will be divided into four areas: Olney, Lewis and Clark, U.S. Highway 30 east of Emerald Heights, and town. Olney-area students will be board the bus at designated pickup points and will switch at River Point to a bus that that will take them directly to and from their school.

Lewis and Clark area students will board the bus at designated pickup points and will switch at Lewis and Clark Elementary School to a bus that will take them to and from their school.

Highway 30, east of Emerald Heights will board the bus and be transported directly to and from their school.

Town students will board the bus and be transported directly to and from their school. Town includes Emerald Heights.

Zielinski said parents of kindergartners should be aware that when bus drivers drop morning kindergartners off mid-day they need to see a person at the bus stop, someone the bus driver knows the child is safe with. Afternoon kindergartners should be met by a trusted adult or leave the bus with an older sibling.

For parents who don't plan on sending their kids on buses, the elementary schools have arranged to have an adult on duty from 7:30 a.m. on in case parents need to drop their kids off. School doesn't start until 8:15 a.m. There will be an adult on duty at Capt. Robert Gray Elementary from 8 a.m. on. Classes begin at 8:30 a.m. for kindergartners.

Orientation for students will be Sept. 7. Transportation will be provided for freshman and seventh graders. On orientation day the freshman bus routes will run five hours later than the regular school day schedule.

No transportation is provided for orientation at the elementary schools.

The first full day of school for all students is Sept. 8.

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