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Upcoming School Year Information | August 4, 2022

[Click here for Spanish translation]

Dear Families and Staff,

It is August and that means back to school! I hope you have had some time this summer to enjoy the wonder of this beautiful place we call home.

As you prepare for a new school year there is a lot to think about, so I want to update you with important information about transportation, nutrition services, and staffing.

TRANSPORTATION

In the past we have asked families to register to ride the bus. Because of limited staff, we’re not doing that this year. If you would like your child to take advantage of bus transportation, please check the Transportation website and click the Find Your School Bus Stop button to find the bus stop closest to you. Make sure to have your child at the bus stop five minutes before the scheduled time. 

Adequate staffing for school transportation has long been a dilemma and, as we experienced last year, has reached new levels of intensity and become a nationwide quandary. Moving into this school year it’s important to know that there will be NO rotating route schedules. Our goal is to deliver safe, consistent, and reliable transportation to support families in getting their children to school. Bus transportation will look a bit different than in pre-pandemic years–no one strategy will solve a problem of this magnitude, so we have put several solutions in place to alleviate the situation. 

The first strategy is a system of pick up locations along the main road arteries in the Borough. Instead of buses going through neighborhoods and stopping at individual houses, students will be picked up at one location in a zone area. Families across the district have been using this school transportation method and now more buses will participate in the routine this year. Because buses will be sticking primarily to main routes, we are anticipating an increase in on-time arrivals and fewer delays. 

If your designated pick up location is further than 1.5 miles from your home, you may qualify for the “in lieu of'' option. This option allows compensation to families for getting their children to the bus stop. This option is available only to students attending their home attendance area school. Students attending schools of choice will not qualify for the option. For more information, please contact the Transportation Department at 907-452-2000 option 4 or visit the transportation website.

Secondly, we will be partnering with Durham to utilize minivans to supplement the bus system. These vans will give us flexibility in how we address transportation needs in the more remote portions of the district as well areas of need. We are working with Durham to use current district staff as drivers in this unique option.

It is important to note that all Special Education routes will run on a regular schedule across the district. 

Finally, Durham will continue their aggressive recruitment efforts. We are fortunate to have a transportation partner that, in the middle of a nationwide bus driver shortage, has been able to consistently recruit, train, and hire school bus drivers. They will continue their efforts and keep buses running and delivering students to school. If you or someone you know is interested in driving a bus, apply here.

NUTRITION SERVICES PROGRAM

Because of expanded federal funding for the School Lunch Program, we have previously been able to offer meals to all students in the district at no charge. That funding has ended and we are returning to our previous requirements for students to receive free and reduced meals. If you would like your child to continue receiving free and reduced meals, please complete the 2022-23 meals application form and see if your family qualifies. 

STAFFING

As you may be aware, our country is facing a shortage of workers in just about every arena. School districts are not an exception to the worker shortages around the country. Our district has fared much better than others around the state and country largely due to the efforts of our Human Resources Department. They have worked tirelessly over the summer months to identify potential employees with efforts like partnering with the University of Alaska Fairbanks–all while continuing to use every recruiting avenue available.  

We are investing our energy on finding solutions for the immediate and long range to ensure our students are provided the opportunity to receive an excellent education. Though the challenges will continue, as is the way of life, we are excited for this new school year and to work together for student success.

All the Best,

Karen Melin
Chief School Administrator
Fairbanks North Star Borough School District