Purdy faces challenges due to higher enrollment

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Bus routines worked out after first couple weeks

The Purdy school district had the largest influx to enrollment this year, and although the district sees that as a positive, it does bring some issues into light that the district had to work out the first few weeks of school.

Mindi Gates, Purdy superintendent, said the district is looking at the enrollment numbers for this year, and the transportation director has been creating lists and looking at the numbers in the morning versus the afternoon.

“Right now, we are not over capacity, so there is not a need for us at this time to add another bus route,” she said. “But, with our enrollment going up this year, we did look into that possibility.”

Gates said the district will continue to monitor the need there and the numbers of children riding the bus.

“There tends to be a larger number of student pick-ups the first week of school,” she said. “There are also a lot more students being dropped off in the morning.”

Gates said that is simply due to families getting back into school routines.

“Since we have gotten a few more weeks into the school year, that traffic has kind of slowed down and the routines, as far as pick-up schedules, have gotten better,” she said. “The first week of school, we tried some different things with our timing to keep the students in the classrooms as long as we could for learning purposes, but also getting them out in a time that does not cause traffic issues.”

Gates said the district started earlier on those dismissals during the first couple of days, but by that first Thursday and Friday, they tried to push those dismissal times back more.

“That did not work for us,” she said. “We did finally find our sweet spot for class dismissal times for those students.”

Gates said the goal was to keep the students in the classroom as long as possible but to also create a system that didn’t cause traffic backups, and the district has managed to figure it out.

“I think what we were seeing is that after that first week of school, more students were ridding the bus home,” she said. “Then, you combine that with a higher student enrollment and you have obstacles to work through.”

Gates said, additionally, about the traffic concerns during the first week of school due to the increased enrollment, there was a change in the special education department.

“The person that was our process coordinator last year is no longer with the district, and that is not a position that we filled,” she said. “We changed our approach to how we are handling that within the district.”

Gates said at the last school board meeting, the special education department and teachers were being complimented on how hard they have been working on getting the process going without that process coordinator position being filled.

“Our teachers have done a good job every year in any program throughout the district,” she said. “Looking at reviewing and reevaluating [individual education plans], we want to make sure that our students are receiving the services that they need.”

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