Bus ridership down for Shawano schools

Lee Pulaski
City Editor

Parents are bringing their children to school more frequently in the Shawano School District, according to data gathered in the first week of school.

Superintendent Randi Anderson said that about 30% of its students rode the bus on the week of Sept. 1, when school first started in Shawano. This is according to data furnished by Kobussen Buses, which Anderson said she has asked the company to furnish weekly as the district tries to get a handle on its transportation budget during the coronavirus pandemic.

“We can kind of look to make sure we are using our dollars and allocating our resources to the best of our ability,” Anderson said during a Sept. 9 meeting of the district’s finance committee.

In order for a bus to have the 6 feet of social distancing recommended by health experts during the pandemic, the maximum occupancy is 30 students, 35 if siblings sit together. Buses normally have a capacity of 72-75, according to Anderson. She said that one of the buses had 32 students, but another only had 16, with the average coming between 12 and 18, so it might be necessary to tweak routes if numbers don’t increase in subsequent weeks.

“We’re going to continue to look at this for the month of September, and then we will go back to Kobussen with some possible suggestions about where we may be able to condense routes but still keep the social distancing piece,” Anderson said.

She added that windows are being kept down on the buses to provide sufficient ventilation and mitigate the risk of coronavirus spread.