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WCSD expands school bus service for elementary and middle school students

A school bus
Maria Palma
KUNR Public Radio
A Washoe County School District bus, on Feb. 7, in Sparks, Nev.

The Washoe County School District will launch sweeping changes to its transportation program beginning Feb. 20.

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More students will ride buses as the district shortens walk zones.

Elementary school walk zones will be reduced from 1.25 miles to one mile and middle school walk zones from 2.25 miles to two miles. High school walk zones remain unchanged at three miles.

The change will allow 2,600 additional elementary and middle school students to ride the bus to and from school each day.

Every student who currently rides the bus will continue to do so, but there will be some changes, said Adam Searcy, WCSD chief operating officer.

It is important for families to learn about the new bus schedules, he said.

“All existing riders will continue to be eligible for bus service, their bus stop location, and bus stop times, and the bus numbers that are servicing them might change. So we really want to encourage every existing rider to double check what their new bus stop location might be,” Searcy said.

In 2022 and 2023, the school district experienced a shortage of bus drivers and even temporary loss of service. Searcy says they are now at a “healthy full staffing level.”

The changes will also help remove barriers to attending school some students have experienced as a result of transportation challenges, said Adam Mayberry, WCSD board vice president.

“Certainly this time of the year, it gets darker, faster. And so that's the challenge for a lot of moms and dads to have their small kids walking that distance. We're also increasing capacity and access to many of our students getting into school. We know that's positive because it reduces the absenteeism rate,” Mayberry said.

To check new bus schedules, visit washoeschools.net/transportation

Maria joined KUNR Public Radio in December 2022 as a staff reporter. She is interested in stories about underserved communities, immigration, arts and culture, entertainment, education and health.