Overcrowded Buses & Lengthy Commutes Push School District To Consider New Transportation Plan

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MADISON COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) – Overcrowded buses, lengthy commutes, and first graders riding the buses with high school seniors: These are just some of the transportation problems the Madison County school system faces.

“We run 219 buses over 10,000 miles a day,” said Superintendent David Copeland. “We have one bus that we have some riders on there 75 minutes one way. That’s 150 minutes a day on a bus.”

The Madison County school district is in need of more than 10 new buses, but with a price tag of $2.5 million, it is not even an option.

During a Wednesday work session, a new transportation plan was presented to the board.

It comes as a result of this survey they sent out to parents in December, asking them what solutions they would like to see implemented to fix the district’s transportation problem.

Madison County School District Bus Survey

Madison County School District Bus Survey

“What we’re looking at doing is taking these routes and dividing them in half by doing a staggered start,” explained Dan Evans, Director of Operations for the district.

The plan would change the start times for elementary, middle, and high schools.
Buses would carry K-8th grade students together, and high school students would ride separately.

“It’s worth it for the safety and security of our children. That’s the main issue,” said Evans. “Sixty children on a bus in high school or middle school is too many children.”

The plan is not cost-neutral. The district could see increased mileage costs, even with the state paying 80% of the costs.

But school officials say the savings come in other, just as valuable, ways.

“What it saves is the cost of buying new buses. What it saves is the time spent on the buses and I don’t know how you put a price tag on that,” said Copeland. “I think it certainly would help us academically and is much safer.”

Copeland says he doesn’t know when it will come up for public discussion or a vote. However, another board member urged her colleagues to get it on the agenda as soon as possible, so parents can start preparing for next year.


  • Douglas

    I commend the district for confronting the problem and vetting solutions. I am concerned about younger children (K-4) on the bus with middle school children. We all know about the aggressive behavior exhibited on bus routes by older children. Is the City of Madison the only district in North Alabama that have citizens with the willingness to invest in their children’s education? We should find a way to invest in new buses $2.4 Million should not be such a herculean task for an area blessed with the resources we have. This is not the Alabama “Black Belt” region.

  • Daniel (@gamepro86x)

    I went to school here and in NC, and NC does the staggered approach to, but I think has a better setup. They had K-5 (elementry) seperate, and 6-12 (middle + high school) together. When I went to school in Madison City everyone from K-12 was piled together, its a bit daunting to little elementry kids.

  • Think about it

    The real question is why are they 250k each? Average is around 40k and up to 75k for a new bus.

    • Tim

      The 250K each is the cost of the bus and operating cost, gas, maintenance, drives etc. I do agree this is extreme. I think it is Copeland’s last attempt to screw things up before he is voted out in November.

  • Carol

    It concerns me that the cost of new buses is something our school funds can not provide, but there is to be money to build a new high school. That in turn will create the necessity of yet more buses. Staggering times of school starts will only cause more problems as older siblings do pick up younger siblings from school. Parents work schedules can not be changed at will. If parents can not drop students off in the morning, we will have more bus riders. Maybe the consideration of redistricting schools would alleviate some of the problem. Let’s gear the solution more toward the betterment of the education of our children than to the financial and political betterment of those “powers that be” in our county.

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