The Cassville R-4 School District will add a new bus transportation route on Monday, Oct. 17. Nicknamed the Kings River Golden Express, the new route will provide public transportation for students living in the Kings River and Golden areas.
"The bus will start in Carr Lane and work its way back," said Joe Cavness, district operations director. "We will be moving students off of four current bus routes to the new express route."
Around 50 or 60 students who currently ride buses 12, 15, 20 and 24 will be transported to school on the new express route bus 19, which will pick up kids who live along Highway 86. The bus will also make a few stops in Cassville, including a stop at Schell Trailer Park.
"All of the families who have students who live on the routes that will be impacted have been notified through a note home and a school outreach call," said Cavness. "We will be doing another call this week."
The new route is designed to decrease the transportation time for students who are currently assigned to the district's longest bus routes. Ride times could decrease by as much as 20 minutes.
"This is a smaller group, but it will have a big impact," said Superintendent Richard Asbill. "These kids will not be picked up as early or dropped off as late. This will be an express route to get them to school more quickly."
Some of the district's longest routes begin pick-ups at 6:40 a.m. Asbill hopes to see pick-up times that are later but reminds parents that the district works to get students to school in time to eat breakfast each morning.
"We are working to reduce the impact on as many kids as possible," said Asbill. "We are hoping that all our long routes will be able to begin picking up kids later.
"We would like to give parents 10 or 20 extra minutes with their children at home," said Asbill. "This should accommodate family needs and work schedules better."
The school district transports an average of 1,000 to 1,100 children to school each weekday. This is around 60 percent of the district's student body. Most bus riders are primary, intermediate and middle school students, but around one-third of high school students also take advantage of the district's public transportation.
"The main benefit of this new route is that when you have students on buses a shorter amount of time you lessen the discipline problems," said Cavness.
The district has been planning the new route since it announced the elimination of one bus route at the beginning of the 2011-12 school year. The Kings River Golden Express will increase the district's number of bus routes from 18 to 19.
"We have known for some time that the kids in the Golden area are on the bus too long," said Cavness.
Asbill said that some scheduling changes could be made after the new route begins operating. The district will be working to operate the express route as efficiently as possible.
A substitute bus driver will serve as the express route driver for the remainder of the first semester of the school year. At mid-year, the district will evaluate the route and make a decision regarding hiring a driver for the second half of the year.
"This is a good opportunity for the parents and the kids both," said Asbill. "We have always offered a great service, but this will make it better and more convenient. Anytime we can reduce riding time down to 30 or 45 minutes it makes the day go better for the kids."
Parents who have questions about the new bus route are encouraged to call their child's building principal or Cavness at 847-2221.