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FAQs about Late Buses in the Afternoon

Each day, our goal is to get everyone home safely and promptly but we know that the promptly is not always happening. We wanted to give you a little information about how our afternoon bus dismissal works and how we are addressing this with the bus company. We are doing our best to minimize the impact but when busing children outside of their feeder pattern or district, there are different implications. Please know that this does not mean we are complacent or accepting of late buses.

What is the process? Buses are supposed to be at FSMA by 3:30 p.m. with the goal of leaving by 3:45 p.m. The buses can leave FSMA from 3:45 – 3:55 p.m. and still be considered on time as there is a 10 minute window from the scheduled stop time. At 3:30 p.m., if a bus is not here, we call the bus company. They then put a call out to the bus driver and wait for them to be at a stop to return the call (sometimes this is seconds and sometimes many minutes depending on their route). Then, they call us back and let us know the estimated time. If the estimated time is later than 3:55, we send out an email to let families know.

Why doesn’t Lehanes let us know in advance if they have late busses? FSMA buses do multiple routes throughout the day before coming to our school. The buses often leave the depot on time for their first route and then get behind throughout the afternoon. While we wish they would let the company know when they get behind, this is not their protocol. The company only knows that buses are late once we tell them they are not here. We agree that changing this protocol would have a positive impact but it is not something we have control of at this time.

Why are buses late? FSMA buses do routes much longer than a typical district bus route. We want to provide this service at the highest level possible and will continue to transport children to bus stops outside all across New Castle County even though the law only requires us to transport children who reside within the district where the charter school is located. We say this only to remind everyone that our goal is always to do what is best for children and families… we want to provide this service but when busing farther than any district school, there are going to be compromises. One major compromise we face is consistency because things like accidents and traffic impact us much differently because of the distance our buses are traveling. In addition, when a substitute driver is needed, they often have to travel a distance to get to the first stop (again, with routes all over Delaware, this is very different than a district that has buses/drivers all nearby).

What are we doing to resolve this? Each day, FSMA tracks the time each bus arrives at FSMA. FSMA is in contact with the bus company daily to share trends and concerns we are seeing. We have negotiated a service level agreement in our contract, which to our knowledge, no other charter school has been able to do. This means that there are repercussions when buses are late but again, our priority is to work to meet the ideal of on-time buses.

Why doesn’t an email go out sooner? From 3:15 – 3:45 p.m. each day, our office is extremely busy. We are still processing many dismissal changes as multiple parents are showing up unannounced to pick up their children. This means that we need to get a child off of the bus and communicate with the teacher/bus checker of the change. Also, multiple calls are coming in to inquire about bus lateness and if we have any updates. We are working hard to call the bus company or send an email as soon as we find out but cannot do that if we have parents in the office or multiple phones ringing. This is where we can use your help! Please do not call the office for non-emergencies between 3:00 and 3:45 p.m. and please do not do non-emergency dismissal changes after 10:00 a.m. Also, if you have lost your walker tag or someone different is picking up your child who will need a tag, please stop by the office before 3:00 to pick it up.

Our goal continues to work with the bus company to get every child home safely and promptly. We are frustrated by this as well and are doing what we can to make this better for everyone. We are hopeful that sharing some information about processes and procedures helps. Bus transportation is always a choice. We provide this as a service but we also run a pretty efficient walker line if that works better for you.

For more information about charter school transportation, check out: Title 14, Chapter 5, Subchapter 508 Responsibility for student transportation

FAQs about Carline/Drop-off

What time can I begin dropping off? FSMA opens for students at 8:25 a.m.  Prior to this time, there are no staff members assigned to supervise students.  Please do not leave children unattended prior to 8:25 a.m.

Please note that the entire street in front of FSMA is used for carline and bus drop off. No one should be parking or pulling up into this area unless they are in the designated carline.

If I have a child in the Lower School, where do I drop off? If you are driving to FSMA to drop off your child, you will pull up in the front of the Lower School, in the designated “Car Drop-Off Area.”   Please pull all the way up to the first staff member waiting to greet your child.

A few important logistics:

  • Please stay in your car and wait for an adult to meet you (children should be capable of unbuckling their own seatbelt so you do not have to get out of the car).
  • Please have your child’s seat on the side closest to the sidewalk – this is for their safety and staff safety.
  • This is a drop off location only. If you need to get out of the car or come into the building, please park and walk with your child.

If I have a child in the Upper School, where do I drop off? There is an Upper School carline.  Children in 4 th  – 8 th  grade are expected to exit their car quickly and it is extremely helpful if families exiting the carline use caution when either re-entering the driving lane or turning right onto 10th St.

I have children in both the Upper and Lower School, where do I drop off? If you have children in both schools, please drop off at the Lower School.  We have a staff member on the Lower School side designated to get children across safely.  We do not have someone on the Upper School side and with cars turning right, this is extremely dangerous.  We request that no children cross from the Upper to Lower School without a parent/adult.

Here is how you can help…

  • Follow ALL traffic patterns – please do not make a u-turn on French St.
  • Use designated crosswalks – if you park and walk your child in, please walk to the corner and use the crosswalk
  • Use caution – there is lots of merging happening in our two blocks.  Drivers are expected to use caution when pulling back into the driving lane.
  • You are models for children at all times (even if you have already dropped off your own child, others are watching!).  Please do not cross in the middle of the street or walk when there is not a signal to do so!

Any students not in the building by 8:45 a.m. will need to be escorted into the building by an adult and signed in.  Children arriving after 8:45 a.m. are considered tardy. Tardies are marked as excused or unexcused based on the documentation you provide so please send in a note if your child is late for a reason that is considered excused.

Starting the day off right is important for everyone!  Procedures help everyone get to school safely and rules help children know the expectations.  Please remind your child of the rules and procedures and be models for following these rules and the traffic laws. Our staff is out front to greet children with a smile and have their first interaction be a positive one… thank you for working with us on this!

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