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Important Update: Transportation Eligibility Changes and Hazard Zone Requests

Posted Date: 5/21/24 (1:00 PM)

Dear Ottumwa Families,

We are excited to share some updates regarding the transportation services for the upcoming 2024-2025 school year.

We are pleased to announce that Durham Transportation has been awarded the bussing contract for the upcoming school year. We are looking forward to continuing our partnership.

We're also thrilled to share that our new contract with Durham Transportation will include bus tracking for parents' convenience, Durham bilingual office staff member to assist families and added bus security camera coverage. 

Transportation Eligibility Changes:

We are making revisions to our transportation eligibility criteria to better serve the needs of our students and ensure the safety and efficiency of our transportation services. Starting from the next academic year, eligibility for transportation will be as follows:

  • Students in grades Kindergarten through 5th are eligible for transportation if they live beyond one mile from their assigned school building.

  • Students in grades 6th through 12th are eligible for transportation if they live beyond two miles from their assigned school building.

  • Preschool transportation will not be impacted by these changes.

Parents may go to the District Bussing Map to determine if they are eligible for transportation.  Families may also review the following link on how to use the bussing map site. 

It's important to note that while state law mandates bussing for K-5 students living beyond two miles away from their school, we will provide transportation to students living beyond one mile. Similarly, state law requires bussing for 6-12 students residing beyond three miles from their school, but we will provide transportation for those living beyond two miles.

Process for Hazard Zone Review Requests:

  1. Identification of Hazard Zones: When evaluating potential hazard zones within the no-bussing areas (walk zones), the Ottumwa Community School District, in collaboration with Durham Transportation, considers a variety of factors that could impact the safety and security of students walking to and from school. These factors aim to address both environmental and infrastructural concerns that may pose risks to students. Here is an expanded list of factors that might be taken into consideration for hazard zones:

    1. Definition of Hazard Zones:

Hazard zones within the Ottumwa Community School District are specific areas that, despite falling within the typically established no-bussing zones, qualify for district transportation services due to heightened safety concerns. These zones are designated based on an assessment of environmental and infrastructural factors that pose risks to student safety when walking to or from school.

  1. Primary Factors for Hazard Zone Consideration:

  • Presence or Absence of Crossing Guards: Areas where students must cross streets without the assistance of crossing guards can be more hazardous, especially at busy intersections.

  • Presence or Absence of Traffic Control Devices: The lack of stop signs, stop lights, crosswalks, and other traffic control measures can increase the risk for students navigating these areas.

  • Need to Cross Four or More Lanes of Traffic: Locations requiring students to cross multiple lanes of traffic are considered more dangerous due to the increased exposure to vehicles.

  • Posted Speed Limit: Higher speed limits pose greater risks to pedestrian students. Areas with high speeds are scrutinized for potential hazard zone status.

  • Absence of a Significant Sidewalk Infrastructure: The lack of significant sidewalk infrastructure, and safe walking pathways affects students of all ages and significantly impacts their safety, warranting consideration for hazard zone status. (applies to both elementary and secondary students)

  1. Additional Safety Considerations:

  • Visibility and Lighting: Poorly lit areas or those with limited visibility at dawn or dusk are considered for hazard zone status, as these conditions increase the risk of accidents.

  • Weather Conditions: Severe weather conditions that affect road and walkway safety (such as ice, snow, or flooding) can lead to designation as a hazard zone.

  • Natural Barriers: Geographic features such as rivers, hills, or dense vegetation that complicate safe walking routes are taken into account.

  • Railroad Crossings: Proximity to active railroad crossings without adequate pedestrian safety measures (such as gates or warning lights) is a critical factor in hazard zone evaluation.

  1. Hazard Zone Review Request: Families who wish to have an area reviewed to be considered for a hazardous area may do so by completing this form

  2. Review and Approval: Our transportation team will review each request on a case-by-case basis and work closely with Durham to determine the best transportation solution for eligible students. The school district will notify you via email if your transportation hazard zone review request was approved or denied. 

We understand the importance of ensuring the safety of our students on their way to and from school, and we are committed to addressing concerns related to hazard zones. Please stay tuned for further updates and detailed information regarding transportation eligibility changes and hazard zone requests in the coming months.

Thank you for your attention to this matter, and please do not hesitate to reach out if you have any questions or concerns.

Dave Harper

Transportation Coordinator