September 12, 2013 10:07:40 AM
Carl Smith - [email protected]
Starkville School District Assistant Superintendent Toriano Holloway has helped the school system with one of its most pressing issues a little more than a year since his hiring: The district has now worked out many of the kinks surrounding its transportation system.
Holloway, who brought with him experience of working with transportation issues in his previous positions, told the SSD Board of Trustees Tuesday the school's bus system is now transporting about 2,818 students per day, an increase of about 560 children from last year.
School routes now predominantly transport like-aged students, improving upon routes last year which intermingled children of various ages, he said. The change has helped decrease discipline referrals and also helped entice parents to allow their children to ride the bus in a safe environment.
"When children get on the buses with their peers, it increases safety. Sometimes in the past, you'd see a younger student trying to impress an older one. Now, these potential disciplinary problems are not occurring as often," Holloway said. "We've received numerous compliments from parents. I think more parents are allowing their children to ride the buses because the same-age students are on the routes.
"When you have students riding with their peers, it cuts down on a lot of potential problems that can occur," he added.
Once Holloway joined SSD, he began analyzing the school district's bus system and its routes. SSD implemented numerous route changes at the beginning of this school year to make transportation more efficient.
SSD's fleet, which Holloway said has about 70 buses, was given new route instructions based upon a peer pick-up system. The new system produced numerous glitches in the beginning of the semester as drivers and children adjusted to the routes but appears to be flowing more smoothly.
"We had a lot of parents who registered their children late -- we simply did not have their information -- but we're managing better and have rotated buses around on routes to accommodate everyone we can," he said. "One of the best things is that on the old system, teachers were on (pick up) duty 45 minutes to an hour per day after the final school bell would ring. Right now, the latest we're seeing is that those teachers are finished by at least 30 minutes every day."
Carl Smith covers Starkville and Oktibbeha County for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter @StarkDispatch