As part of the 21st Century Learning Center Grant, the Primero School District began offering bus services this November to students who stay after school to attend club practices, group meetings, and other school-sponsored events.
“Attendance for after-school and weekend activities was tremendous last year - the first year of grant operations at Primero,” said Principal Blake Byall. “However, the need to provide transportation for many students and community members was a compelling issue.”
“Many of our kids wanted to stay for events and activities, but had no way of getting home if they did not take the bus directly after the end of the school day,” Byall said. “The Year One grant budget did not include a transportation component; this was something that was clearly missing from operations last year, and is something we know will be instrumental this year in terms of achieving maximum attendance for our programs.”
The bus departs school at 5:30 p.m. each night that activities are held—generally Monday through Thursday. It makes one scheduled stop at the main student drop-off/pick-up area at the present location west of Cokedale. The bus operates with the understanding that all students must be met by parents or guardians by 5:45 p.m..
In its first week of operation, the Late Bus demonstrated its need and importance to programming. “This had to happen,” said Jose Esquivias, Athletic Director and coach at the school. “We have fifty kids here after school regularly playing basketball, attending wrestling practice, and receiving help in academics. Many of these students would not have been able to stay had we not had the late bus option up and running.”
Roxann Fernandez, fifth grade teacher at Primero, contributes to this bus operation by having taken on the main driving role. Last year, Fernandez, who is also a regular bus route driver for the district, returned from her evening run and tutored students that were staying late. She provided an essential service to students, but few could stay as late as was necessary for her to work with them. By driving the Late Bus after returning from her normal route, Fernandez facilitates the needs of the district’s grant participants to a degree not anticipated last year.
“We had 19 students ride the bus on its first night,” said Fernandez. “While that number might at first seem paltry, keep in mind that it was a Tuesday, it was the first time this service was being provided, and 19 students represent 10 percent of the total number of students at Primero.” A large majority of those students were children that had no other option of getting home. They represent the population the 21st Century Grant program is focused on benefitting.
“Primero School is making every effort to improve our systems, better the curricular and non-curricular programming offered, and increase our participation rates. The Late Bus offers a possible solution to those desiring to stay, but lacking the means,” said Byall. “If your children attend Primero and you are interested in having them engage in after school activities and would take advantage of this opportunity, please call the school at 719-868-2715 for more information.”