Classes in Appoquinimink School District to start after Labor Day

By Christopher Kersey

The Appoquinimink School District will be holding a “Day 0” on Thursday, Aug. 24, when bus drivers will, for practice, run their routes like the usual school day.

Bus drivers will run the empty buses—all 118 of them – on that date to test for accuracy. Parents are invited to bring their kids to the bus stops to get better acquainted with the stops and the bus driver.

The district’s “school bus drivers will be spending the day on the roads to familiarize themselves with their routes and meet the children and families they’ll be working with on a daily basis. Drivers will be arriving at approximately the same time as their a.m./p.m. route would run,” said Lilian Miles, district spokeswoman.

Stacey McIntosh, district transportation supervisor, said more than 9,200 students—nearly 9 out of 10 children – will ride buses to the schools in the district. When “the first day of school arrives, your bus driver will already be a familiar face—and some of the anxiety associated with the experiences can be lessened,” she said.

“In the fast-growing community like Appoquinimink, we want to make sure it’s a positive experience by giving our drivers a chance to get familiar with the stops, turnarounds, any construction changes and the pickup and drop off times,” she said.

The district plans to send out a mailer to parents on Friday, Aug. 18, telling them about the bus stops.

Buses can run as short as 15 or 20 minutes on a route but never more than one hour, and the district tries to run them as efficiently as possible with many buses at maximum capacity, McIntosh said.

For the high school and middle school grades, the capacity is 48 to 50 students per bus. For the elementary grades, the capacity is up to 72 students with three students per seat. Because of the shortage of bus drivers, the district had to consolidate some routes, she said.

McIntosh said the high capacity on the buses can cause behavior problems because the students are so close together.

For Day 0, the bus drivers will run both the morning and afternoon routes and have four hours of training in between. In the training portion, “we talk about gang-related incidents and bullying. We talk about special education, safety on the road and student management,” McIntosh said.

In the Appoquinimink School District, the first day of school is Tuesday, Sept. 5, for grades kindergarten through ninth grade and Wednesday, Sept. 6, for grades 10 through 12.

Last year, school started on Aug. 29.

The date was changed after a survey of teachers and parents found that an overwhelming number of them wanted school to start after Labor Day, Miles said.