ESD Update

May 3, 2021

Celebrations: Elementary and Secondary Students Back to In-Person Instruction

We are celebrating the successes of our elementary school staff and the innovative ways they focused on connecting with students during their first few weeks back in a five-day-a-week in-person model. Our elementary staff worked hard to create welcoming learning environments which included camping themes, tie-dying T-shirts and outdoor classrooms. We are also excited to have our middle and high school students back in the buildings for more in-person instruction starting this week.

ESD Transportation Update

ESD has been advertising for bus drivers all year and currently has one new applicant for the bus driver positions that are posted. We have extended the deadline to May 12th in an effort to gather the five to eight driver applicants that are necessary to implement a transfer bus schedule for next year. If we do not get the necessary applicants by this time, ESD will need to consider a tiered or staggered start time schedule for the 2021-2022 school year.


The Superintendent and Board members have greatly appreciated the written and oral feedback received from parents and staff. The parent sessions regarding transportation that were held at Valley View, Lincoln, and Morgan Middle School were very informative. We will be hosting sessions at EHS and Mt. Stuart this week and a session for Spanish speaking families on May 10th. ESD is committed to hearing the concerns and suggestions of our ESD community as we consider the best transportation model for next year.


The major concerns that we have heard from parents are related to the approximate two-hour time gap between the time that elementary students are dropped off and when secondary students are dropped off. This time gap especially creates hardships for families who have students in both the elementary and secondary schools. A common theme that we have also heard when considering feedback from parents has been the suggestion to consider creating boundaries for next year 2021-2022, knowing that we will need to have some type of boundary system in 2022-2023 to support the transportation model with four elementary schools in full operation.


A boundary model is when zones of attendance for individual schools are developed. Ideally, students who live in an attendance zone for a specific school would attend that particular school. Setting up an attendance zone for each school is a multi-layered process, and many factors like geographic locations, traffic patterns and demographics are considered. Many other decisions would also have to be made such as considering if there would be a choice option for parents (to go to a school other than the one they are zoned for) and determining what this choice process would like look. The advantages of creating a transportation system built around boundaries is that it significantly reduces the gap of time between the first tier and the second tier of students.


Originally, ESD was looking at implementing a staggered-start model for the 2022-2023 school year for when Ida Nason Aronica Elementary opens as its own entity. We shared with our community at the study session on April 14th that we would be establishing a Board committee in the fall of 2021. This committee would begin the discussion about potential boundaries in order to create an optimal transportation system for the 2022-2023 school year.


A complexity for next year is that the Lincoln students and staff will be moving into the Ida Aronica Elementary School site. With Lincoln students not being in their home site, ESD is currently working together with their software company to see if creating boundaries for next year would significantly decrease the gap in time between the first tier and second tier of transporting students. Again, this option would only be considered if ESD does not get the necessary applicant pool of drivers to implement the transfer system. A complete report of our findings will be presented at the May 12th Study Session.


Another suggestion that came from one of our parent meetings was to see if ESD could partner with Ellensburg City Transit/HopeSource in sharing driver resources. ESD initiated contact with HopeSource regarding this possibility and hopes to continue this conversation with them in upcoming weeks.

Teamwork

Our ESD transportation team is exceptional. They have put in multiple hours to determine an optimal transportation model for next year. We appreciate your patience and are confident that by working together we will accomplish the best results for our students.


Sincerely,

Jinger Haberer, ESD Superintendent