City, school district partner to transport students
Marshalltown has long been known as a community that pulls together and helps out.
This was recently demonstrated in a partnership between the Marshalltown Community School District (MCSD) Transporation Department and the City of Marshalltown Municipal Transit.
Facing the challenges of transporting students to and from school during the COVID-19 pandemic, help has been provided by the city and the Community Foundation of Marshall County (CFMC).
Municipal Transit has helped the district with an average of 20,000 bus rides per year for students, and this year has provided a discounted cost to the district. The CFMC supplied a $9,000 grant to cover the cost of student transportation on city buses.
MCSD Transportation Director Rex Kozak said students who live within two or three miles of their schools are the ones who will be eligible for rides on the city buses.
“If a student lives within two miles of the school, and they are in grades K-8, they walk,” Kozak said. “If a student lives within three of the school, and they are in grades 9-12, they walk. The district does not provide transportation to them and due to COVID, we do not have a pay to ride option.”
The Municipal Transit traditionally provided those students with rides, but not all of the families can afford it. That is where the CFMC grant comes into play. The money will help those families cover the cost, but first the families need to apply.
Kozak said families should contact the MCSD Transportation Department and an application will be sent. As long as the application is approved and the student abides by rules on the city buses, he or she will get rides to school and home.
“If the student does not follow the rules, they could lose the pass,” Kozak said.
Kevin Pigors, Municipal Transit administrator, said the primary rule students have to follow is wearing a mask.
“Bus monitors enforce that and we do provide masks,” Pigors said.
Municipal Transit will transport students to Anson Elementary, Marshalltown Learning Academy, Miller Middle School, Lenihan Intermediate School and Marshalltown High School.
“That is where our main demand is and they are the primary pick-up spots,” Pigors said. “Right now we are not adding any regular stops.”
However, that does not mean students living close to other schools are losing out.
“We pick people up at any street intersection; all they have to do is wave at the driver and they will stop and pick them up,” Pigors said. “We also drop-off at any intersection. So, students can get on a city bus close to where they live.”
Having students ride on the city buses with potential adult strangers might be a concern, but Kozak urged parents to talk to their children.
“It is up to the parents to think about and decide what is in the best interest for their child,” he said.
Students are also urged to memorize their home address, their parents names and their phone numbers. If a child gets off at the wrong stop, it is very important for them to be able to tell authorities where they live.
“So many kids do not know their addresses,” Kozak said. “This is a great time to stress for them to know that.”
The expanded partnership and willingness to help is very exciting for Kozak.
“I think this is a great opportunity for the community,” he said. “So many partners working together in the best interest of the community and the students.”
NATIONAL BUS SAFETY WEEK
The timing of the partnership could not have been better, Kozak said, because Oct. 19 to Oct. 23 is National School Bus Safety Week.
The theme this year is “Red Lights Mean STOP!”
Kozak said drivers running the flashing red lights and the extended stop signs on school buses continues to be a problem. There was an incident on Wednesday when a child was getting off the bus, and luckily looked both ways before advancing beyond the bus and crossing the street.
“A car blew right by him,” Kozak said.
If the child had taken another couple of steps and it would have been tragic, he said.
National Bus Safety Week is held annually to educate the public about the importance of school bus safety.
Contact Lana Bradstream at 641-753-6611 or firstname.lastname@example.org.