• Residents must fill out request by Oct. 2 to appear on the agenda.
Lincoln County School District No. 2, like many districts in Wyoming, is a difficult area to negotiate bus routes in terms of distance, drivability and child safety. LCSD No. 2 extends from the mouth of the Snake River Canyon to Sage Junction at the mid-way point between Cokeville and Kemmerer.
“We have north of 1,800 stops per day between all of our buses,” stated Superintendent Matt Erickson. “We have a goal that we don’t want to pick up kids before 6:45 a.m. and we don’t want them to be on a bus for more than 60 minutes. We do have a handful that has some on board for 70 minutes or so.”
With a large and complex map of stops that has grown every year for the past decade, the routes and stops have become more challenging and more complex. In the 2018-19 school year, LCSD No. 2 launched the first of four planned phases for changes in bus routes and stops.
“At the heart of this work is how the routes and stops are determined and how they should be determined moving forward,” Erickson said. “We are concerned with safety and really concerned with road types such as dead-ends, private roads, traffic volume and speed limits. We don’t like to back busses up; we don’t feel it’s safe especially when students are on them. On top of all of this there are guidelines from the state with the Wyoming Department of Education that need to be considered.”
In 2019, the district formed a committee to look at the different criteria on spots and routes from Alpine to Cokeville. This committee met multiple times and in March of 2020 there was a work session, but then the education system shut down due to COVID-19.
“With the [COVID-19] shutdown, we basically put everything on hold until this summer,” Erickson added. We want to be able to address issues such as the amount of time kids are on that bus and do so as efficiently and safely as we can within the constraints of our resources.”
This past summer was the implementation of phase three of a four-phase approach. Members of the public have raised concerns about items such as the traffic volume of commercial vehicles in Cokeville, the movements of buses on hills and corners and the limited area to park on the shoulder of county roads.
“We have a little over 3,000 enrolled and about 2,000 ride the bus, stated LCSD No. 2 Transportation Director, Ryan Lyman. “What we try and do is with the resources of time, drivers, buses and money; Those four resources; we do our best to get the most students on a bus to and from school. Then, because those resources are limited, we have to decide some of the things we can’t do and who is that going to affect. It comes right down to how do you decide who has a bus stop closely and who doesn’t. Who has an hour and 15 minute ride and who has a five minute ride. This discussion is very complex that we are trying to come up with the best answers we can. This isn’t about one or two stops, this is about all 874 stops. I hope that in meeting with parents we can either move forward with this philosophy or come up with a new one. I believe that we should be consistent.”
There is also a lag between resources allotted by the state and actually having them for use within the district. For example, in LCSD No. 2, when a bus reaches 250,000 miles or reaches the required number of years in service, the state of Wyoming will swap it out over a period of five years for the purchase price of that bus.
“We have approved the purchase of 12 new buses that have met that criteria,” Erickson said. “But we are at least a year and a half away from taking possession of those busses.”
Factors such as manufacturing and transportation have slowed that process.
“We’ve had a growing enrollment up until this year but we don’t meet the criteria to add buses to our fleet,” Erickson emphasized. “We have approximately 2,000 kids per day on our fleet which is the same number of buses as we’ve had for the last several years.”
Those who would like to be involved in this process have the opportunity to engage with the district via a workshop on October 4. However, in order to be added to the agenda, residents will need to fill out the appropriate form which can be found at lcsd2.org or from the district office located located at 360 Jefferson St. in Afton. More information can be found at transportation.lcsd2.org.
“We just want people to know that the district has the best interests of all students in mind and our main focus is on student achievement,” Erickson said. As a district, Ryan and the administration are trying to focus and be as consistent as possible. Safety is a big concern but we also want a comprehensive view of safety across the district to be part of the discussion.”