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About 3,300 students ride District 206 school buses each daily. (Echo Press)

You asked: How are school bus routes determined?

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Editor’s note: The following is an Echo Press feature called, “You asked.” Readers are invited to send the newspaper a simple question and we’ll try to get to the bottom of it. Send questions to aedenloff@echopress.com.

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Alexandria Independent School District 206 covers 341 square miles.

A parent contacted the newspaper to find out how the school district determines where the buses go and when children are picked up and dropped off.

So, we asked the district’s transportation director, Kevin McMenimen, to explain what goes into planning school bus routes that cover all that ground.

He explained that the district uses a software package called, “Versa Trans.”

“[It] has both a data base and a mapping component. This allows us to have all the information about the student: name, address, phone numbers, parents, daycare information if applicable, grade and which school the student attends.”

After determining which students live the furthest out, routes are mapped by working back toward the school, locating students to pick up along the way.

“Other things we factor in are ‘hazards’ such as an elementary students crossing a busy road to get to the bus stop and the capacity of the bus,” McMenimen explained.

“Most routes have two students per seat, but we do have a few with three elementary students to a seat. The capacity of our buses ranges from 70 to 82 students… with a few exceptions,” he said.

There 82 routes are used to cover in the mornings and approximately the same number in the afternoons. Plus, the district has 18 early education/special education routes during the midday.

Route organizers try to keep a student’s ride-time less than one hour.

“There are a few exceptions, but it usually happens when a student lives on the outskirts of our district and they have to make a transfer,” McMenimen said.

On average, a student is on the bus for 30 minutes one way, and some for as little as five minutes.

There are 47 buses transporting approximately 3,300 students on the road every day, according to McMenimen.

In addition, the district also provides transportation for all field trips and out-of-town sporting events.

“Last year, our fleet traveled over 800,000 miles nearly accident-free,” McMenimen said. “Of the few accidents we did have, most were the other driver’s fault.”

McMenimen said next time you see a school bus, give the driver a friendly wave and remember they are carrying the most precious cargo, someone’s child, safely.

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Amy Chaffins
Amy Chaffins is a journalist working for the Echo Press newspaper. After graduating from St. Cloud State University, Amy’s first job was at KSAX-TV working as an anchor and reporter. From 2003-2010, Amy worked as an editor and reporter for the Pope County Tribune and Starbuck Times newspapers. During her journalism career, Amy earned writing and photography awards from the Associated Press, Minnesota Newspaper Association and Society of Professional Journalists. Amy and her husband, Brandon, live in Alexandria and together write “He Sez, She Sez,” a humor column in the local women’s magazine, Chicz. Away from work, Amy and Brandon spend time bass fishing and keeping tabs on their charismatic dog, Cash, who has been known to jump out of the boat to “retrieve” the bass lures.
(320) 763-1242
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