Seidenberger said more than 92 percent of Willow Lane’s total students ride the bus – 681 out of 739. He said 458 of those 681 children live within 1.5 miles of the school and indicated that 341 of those 458 kids live within three-quarters of a mile from the school.
Even though 92 percent of Willow Lane students are bused, about 134 vehicles drop kids off at the school every day. “A lot of parents aren’t using the buses,” said Seidenberger. He said the Willow Lane buses are less than 61 percent full in the morning and less than 70 percent full in the afternoon.
He said nine buses serve Willow Lane and that might be reduced by one by learning from parents how many children do not intend to take the bus.
Seidenberger said East Penn proposes doing three things to improve traffic flow at Willow Lane:
• Instead of parents dropping off students at the main entrance, they
will do so at the back of the school, off Mill Creek Road.
• Buses will continue to drop off students in front of the school, but
will have wider turning areas.
• And a gate will be erected to prevent parents from using a shared
driveway with the township fire station.
The superintendent recommended the board approve those improvements whether or not East Penn buses fewer children in the next school year: “We just think it’s the right thing to do.”
Seidenberger put the cost of those improvements at $89,356, with an additional $9,200 for some alternates. He said the money would be drawn from the district’s capital reserve funds, with no impact on East Penn’s operating budget.
He said Lower Macungie Township is close to finalizing plans to add flashing signals, crosswalks and crossing guards at Willow Lane.
He mentioned the possibility of sharing costs for crossing guards with the township. He said two crossing guards will be posted at the intersection of Willow and Sauerkraut lanes and one at Willow Lane and Wheatland Drive.
Seidenberger said public schools in Pennsylvania are not required to transport students, adding the only exceptions are charter school students and those with individualized education plans.
He said East Penn gets reimbursed by the state for children transported at least 1.5 miles to school but not for those who live less than 1.5 miles away – unless they live along a state-designated hazardous road.
He said the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation ranks only one road around Willow Lane Elementary as hazardous: a short “sliver” of Willow Lane that has four homes along it.
The administration’s transportation study includes seven recommendations for the school board’s consideration. Ballard praised the administration for what the first comprehensive transportation study he’s ever seen in his 18 years on the school board.
Seidenberger said East Penn is spending more than $5.32 million for transportation this year. The district uses 132 vehicles on 481 routes every day.