Dear MPS families,
After years of careful consideration and feedback, the Board of School Directors approved a modified 3 Tier Bell Schedule in May of 2020 beginning in the FY21 school year. All MPS schools will fall into one of 3 school time frames for FY21:
- Tier 1 K5/K8 Schools (7:20-2:20p)
- Tier 2 High Schools (8:05a-3:20p)
- Tier 3 K5/K8/Traditional Middle Schools (9:00a-4:00p)
The specific bell schedule for MHSA can be found by clicking here.
This model was enacted to improve the efficiency and quality of transportation services for its stakeholders by reducing the total number of buses serving the district significantly, thereby addressing the nationwide driver shortage and its impact related to the challenges in adequately staffing school bus drivers to service MPS. This reduction also allows bus companies to be more selective during the employment and retention aspects of their staff decision making and serves to increase the attractiveness of school bus employment by offering more daily hours for drivers as well as a livable income by transforming driver employment from part time to full time.
The re-tiering reduces the daily ride time for students, thus shortening the overall school day when considering the bus ride. Ride time reductions in turn also have positive correlations with behavior management on school buses.
The change also serves to reduce ridership counts on each route by offering more routes per tier overall. For example, 1000 buses currently service 2000 routes under our 2-tier system. In a 3-tier model, 800 buses can do 2400 routes. This provides increased flexibility that may be necessary for social distancing considerations due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
From an efficiency standpoint the bus reduction that results from a 3-tier bell schedule equates to an overall reduction in transportation cost. The bus and the driver represent the largest cost components of student transportation. A reduction in bus staff combined with a reduction in equipment needs translates to a reduction in overall transportation expenditures for the district. The SAME services can be provided under a 3-tier model for millions of dollars less annually. These transportation savings will be redirected to fill the needs in the classroom.
We understand this change may be a challenge for your family. MPS is committed to providing the supports necessary to make the transition should you need them and to minimize the adverse impact. The Office of School Administration’s Department of Business & Transportation Services and Department of Student and Family Services will have staff dedicated to assist with any questions or concerns you may have to ensure that supports such as before and after school programming, changes in busing pickup/drop-off points, or alternate enrollment options are readily available should families need to consider such arrangements. Please call 414-475-8922 with any questions or concerns
MPS remains committed to assisting families with any and all questions related to this bell schedule change. We appreciate your support and look forward to providing an improved transportation service delivery model in FY21.
Director of Business & Transportation Services
Milwaukee Public Schools