Delaware News

Summer maintenance includes bus-route design

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As usual, the Delaware City School District's facilities department has a busy summer of maintenance, renovations and determining next year's bus routes.

Renovations have begun at Schultz Elementary School, and bids for similar work at Dempsey Middle School will go out later this summer.

Construction plans for the first phase of Hayes High School's renovations will go before City Council this summer as well. Site work is scheduled to begin after the fall athletic season is over.

Roof repair to the auxiliary gym at Hayes is underway, and the school's parking lots will be seal-coated.

Basic furniture cleaning, stripping and waxing of floors is set for all district schools. Computer software updates also have begun in preparation for the 2014-15 school year.

Jason Sherman, director of facilities and transportation, said his department will hire and train new bus drivers for the fall, and that a lot of the summer facilities work is actually pencil-pushing.

"It's not all bricks and mortar," he said. "We have a lot of planning and coordinating we need to get done in order to prepare for next school year."

With a new bell schedule for the coming school year, bus routes are being reworked and reconfigured to accommodate the changes.

Sherman said new routes for Dempsey and Hayes will need to be figured out this summer.

"We go through all of our routes every summer using a computer software program," Sherman said. "It's actually like Google maps on steroids."

The program uses input from the district's student directory and has the ability to "graduate" students from one grade level to the next.

This means when an elementary school student moves on to Willis Intermediate School, the program knows to route him or her into the new schedule.

Once all the students are in the program and labeled according to their grade level and school start time, staff members can choose a safe bus stop for the student within a half-mile of their home.

"We group students together at stops as much as we can, because there is safety in numbers," Sherman said. "Students can walk together and wait together all in one area."

The program also allows room for kindergarten students who will enroll in the summer, and leaves extra room to add additional stops where new homes are being built.

There are many state guidelines that must be followed, such as students not being allowed to cross more than two lanes of traffic.

"We have to look at everything to make sure that each student has a safe place to be picked up for school," he said.

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