Welcome to Cambridge-Isanti Schools Transportation Department. Our mission is to provide the district with quality transportation service that is safe, professional and cost-effective so that the students we serve enhance their educational journey.
Transportation is responsible for coordinating bus routes throughout the 252 square mile District and scheduling students for school bus service. The District includes the entire City of Cambridge and Isanti as well as many smaller communities.
Assistant Transportation Director
Special Education Route Specialist
COVID 19 Information
Due to health and safety precautions, routes have been rerouted to successfully eliminate the Hub transfer system.
- Families have been surveyed and about 50% have indicated they will transport their own children, so we expect to achieve physical distancing on our buses.
- To accommodate this change, start times have shifted slightly.
September 9, 2020 Update:
As we communicated in mid-August, our Return to Learn plan required us to make significant changes to our Transportation system this year. To provide a safe environment for transporting our students during the COVID pandemic, we needed to reroute all buses and eliminate our hub transfer. In addition to this challenge, we needed to do so in a very short time frame - approximately 2 weeks. (School districts typically take several months to change transportation systems.) We understand that these changes lengthened bus routes for all of our drivers and students. However, the transfer system we had in place was out of compliance with Department of Health guidelines that prohibit congregating among large groups. The current alternative was by far the best option among the choices available and within the condensed time frame.
The decision to change to this model was based on three guiding principles:
- Health and Safety of Students and Staff: We could not operate a traditional hub-and-spoke system and transfer 2,000 students per site while maintaining safe physical distancing standards required to protect our students and staff. This transfer system also did not allow for any contact tracing standards, which are required by MDH.
- Impact on Parents & Families - Last November (pre-COVID), our district had conducted an extensive transportation study and considered other transportation alternatives such as a two-tiered system. The other alternatives would have significantly changed all school start/end times, with little advance notice to families, and placed some family members on different schedules and buses. The system also needed to be utilized for all learning models without changes to student schedules or bus routes.
- Financial Constraints - The district has cut $7.5 million over the last two years. We simply do not have the financial resources to purchase additional buses and hire more bus drivers required to add additional routes. We needed to find the most efficient solution within existing budget constraints.
To accomplish this large-scale change in a tight time-frame, we partnered with K-12 Transportation (CESO), the same group that had conducted our 2019 Transportation Study, to provide expedited routing services.
We recognize that routes for some students are longer than anyone would like. There were no better options given our current circumstances, but we are thankful and proud of our entire transportation department for stepping up to the challenge and successfully transporting our students to and from our schools during these challenging times.
Bus Stop Information
Bus stops are established based on several factors, which include walking conditions, walking distance to the stop and road accessibility. Given acceptable walking conditions, bus stops are placed at least a quarter mile apart.
Buses will not travel into cul-de-sacs, dead-end streets or other areas where the driver cannot safely maneuver the bus. Most private roads are also excluded (i.e. apartment complexes and home associations). These roads are typically not built to the same standard of a public road. Issues such as vehicle weight, road width, congestion, snow clearing, etc., prevents their use. An exception to this may be a bus that is transporting students with disabilities on our special education system. All students, regardless of age or grade who reside in these areas will need to walk to the assigned bus stop regardless of distance.
- Availability of sidewalks is not part of the criteria used in establishing bus stops. Much of the Cambridge-Isanti ISD attendance area was designed without sidewalks.
- Buses drive by many students’ homes every day. The bus driving by doesn't warrant adding/changing a bus stop. Visibility from the home to the bus stop is not part of our criteria for establishing bus stops. Bus stops are collection points in neighborhoods. Statistically, bus stops are safer at the corner than in front of your home. House stops are not only less safe, they are simply not practical for typical busing operations. Again, our special education system would be the exception. We strongly encourage families to walk with and supervise their student at the bus stop as well as meeting their student at the bus stop at drop off.
- We are unable to establish stops based on personal circumstances such as employment, daycare, siblings or medical circumstances of another family member.
Bus stop information is available on Family Access approximately one week before school begins and is updated throughout the year. Your student's bus schedule is located on their student information page in Family Access.
Stops other than your home address must be requested by completing the Alternate Site Form. Scheduling may take up to 3 school days.
*Please note: If you have moved and have a change of address, contact your school office to make the correct changes before contacting the Transportation Department. An alternate site request is not needed.*
School Bus Rules and Safety Training
- Immediately follow the directions of the driver.
- Sit in your seat facing forward.
- Talk quietly and use appropriate language.
- Keep all parts of your body inside the bus.
- Keep your arms, legs and belongings to yourself.
- No fighting, harassment, intimidation or horseplay.
- Do not throw any object.
- No eating, drinking, or use of alcohol, tobacco, or drugs.
- Do not bring any weapon or dangerous objects on the school bus.
- Do not damage the school bus.
It is a privilege – not a right – to ride the bus.
Students in K-10th grade are required to receive classroom training on school bus safety and understand the competencies by the third week of school.
Student Bus Safety Training Topics
- Riding the school bus is a privilege, not a right
- Know the bus rules
- Know the consequences
- Know the danger zone
- Waiting for the bus, riding the bus and leaving the bus
- Know evacuation procedures
Student Bus Safety Training
Please remind your children they must never try to retrieve books or papers from around or underneath the bus. We suggest children keep all papers and articles in a backpack.
In winter students should:
- Be dressed in warm winter clothing, hats, mittens and boots.
- Use the handrail when boarding or exiting the bus to prevent slipping on icy steps or road surfaces.
- Not stand or play on snow piles at the bus stop; students playing on snow piles could slide into the street into the path of oncoming traffic.
Severe weather conditions may result in:
- A two-hour delay in opening schools.
- Closing schools for the entire day.
- Closing schools before the end of the regular school day.
School Closing Information
When ISD 911 school schedules or activities change because of severe weather or other emergencies, the information is shared with the public in the following ways:
- By telephone from the Skyward mass notification system.
- On the District website at www.c-ischools.org.
- On WCCO Channel 4, WCCO 830 AM, KSTP TV Channels, KARE TV Channel 11, KMSP/FOX Channel 9.
If you are a parent and have questions regarding your student qualifying for special transportation, contact your student's case manager at your student's building of attendance. Scheduling may take up to 10 days.
Special Education Transportation
Special education transportation is provided as a service based upon individual student needs. For a student to be eligible for special education transportation, the student's IEP team determines that a need for special transportation exists and incorporates it into the student's IEP.
Request for Special Transportation
A request for special transportation form must be completed and received and approved by the Special Education Department and forwarded to the transportation department prior to any bus service being routed. A member of your student’s Special Services Team will complete the form. Once the completed form is received by the transportation department, every effort will be made to route your student as quickly as possible. Because of all the people that need to be notified (driver, bus assistant, parents and school) it may take up to ten working days to arrange the ride. If it is ten working days or less before school starts in the fall, a bus route may not be arranged by the start of school. In this case a parent/caregiver may be asked to provide transportation for a maximum of ten school days.
Factors to Consider When Determining Whether or Not a Student Needs Special Transportation
While most students with disabilities receive the same transportation services as non-disabled children, it is the responsibility of the IEP team to determine whether the student’s disability prevents the student from using the same transportation provided to non-disabled students. In developing recommendations for special transportation, IEP teams should consider the following relating to a student and his/her disability.
- Mobility issues: Is the student non-ambulatory, wheelchair bound?
- Communication: Is the student hard of hearing; nonverbal; has limited understanding of questions and directions; non-English speaking?
- Physical: Does the student need assistive devices to maintain a sitting position; need assistance walking and going up and down stairs?
- Health Needs: Does the student have seizures; fatigue that causes him/her to fall asleep on bus, require oxygen equipment?
- Behavior: Does the student have significant behavioral issues; physically abusive to other students, attempts to get off the bus, is self-abusive?
Special transportation should not be considered for any child who is capable of riding the regular school bus.
FAQs and More
How do I Request a Bus Stop Route Change?
Please read through all of the provided information before making a route change request. If you feel you have a request that is not answered, please complete the Transportation Questions and Concerns Form.
How will I know which bus my child takes?
Parents receive an email before school starts each fall giving instruction on how to look up bus stop locations, bus numbers and times on Family Access (not available to private & charter school students). Private and Charter Schools must call their school of attendance for bus schedule information.
How are bus stop locations determined?
- Our goal is to consistently identify bus stops in neighborhoods on the basis of safety, efficiency and distance between stops. Generally bus stops are located at an intersection in order for the driver to have a wide area to scan for traffic and students, to create efficient routes and to minimize buses backing up.
- School bus drivers do not have the authority to change bus routes or student pick-up/drop-off locations.
- Generally, bus stops are located at least three blocks away from each other.
- Generally, up to 25 students are assigned to a bus stop. This number may be exceeded at cul-de-sacs, high-density housing areas and high school stops because students are not standing on through streets and/or they are older.
- Bus stops are placed at locations that meet defined criteria, are centrally located and within reasonable walking distances from the student’s home.
- We are not able to locate bus stops within the line of sight of each student’s home or daycare.
If a bus stop is inactive for a period of 15 school days, it will be eliminated from the route. Students at that bus stop will be considered non-riders.
What is the maximum length of time for a bus route?
Every attempt is made to limit student ride times to less than one hour and 15 minutes one way.
Under what conditions are consideration given to adjusting bus stop locations?
Roads and streets sometimes intersect on areas of road that cause concern for school bus transportation and other drivers. We make every effort to select safe places to load and unload students given these varying factors of roads, streets, traffic speed and locations of residences. Adjustments to bus stops may be made when we believe a safer alternative is available
Why do some children have to cross the street to board the bus?
We are not able to route buses so that all children can wait for the bus on the door side. We recommend that children wait on the side of the street that they reside. The bus will activate warning lights and a stop arm to alert traffic in order to accommodate students that need to cross the street to board the bus.
Will the bus drive into a cul-de-sac or down a dead-end street?
Except to transport special education students, buses generally are not routed down cul-de-sacs because of the danger to small children and property caused by the bus turning around and/or backing up in a small area.
My child is the only student using the bus stop. Can the stop be moved closer to our home?
Generally, bus stops are centrally located for all students. Bus stops are not changed to accommodate one or more students because that may displace other students further from their home. Even though other students living along the route may not be riding the bus, we must keep bus stops as they have been published. A central bus stop is necessary because other students may begin riding the bus or new families may move into the neighborhood. It is the responsibility of the parent to ensure that their child arrives safely at the bus stop.
The bus drives right past my house. Why can’t it stop at my house?
The higher frequency of stops makes other drivers impatient. This may result in drivers driving around the bus and causes greater safety concerns than the distance a student has to walk to the bus stop. It also delays the bus by increasing the number of stops, making overall student ride time longer.
What if my child occasionally needs to be dropped off at a different stop?
Students may not be picked up or dropped off at a destination other than their scheduled bus stop.If you would like to request a change in your child's bus stop assignment, please complete the Alternate Site Form. An alternate site is a location other than home that your child would need to be transported from or to. Scheduling may take up to 5 days.
What do I need to do so my child will have a successful bus ride to/from school?
- Arrange for your students to be at their bus stop five minutes before the scheduled pick-up time.
- Monitor children from damaging the property of others at the bus stop.
- Be aware that the bus will pick up and drop off students at the same stop every day school is in session.
- Help your children learn their bus numbers and appropriate paths to/from the bus stop to home.
- Review the bus safety rules outlined in this book with your children.
- Accompany younger children to the bus stop and meet the bus at the end of the day for the first days of school, or arrange for an older child or child care provider to be at the bus stop for the first days of school.
- Understand that the bus pick-up and drop-off times are based on existing weather and road conditions. Traffic congestion, road construction, inclement weather and population changes may cause minor adjustments in pick-up and drop-off times. Parents will be notified of any major changes in bus schedules that affect their child.
Daycare Application Procedure
Bussing will remain the same as previous year.
All students being transported to or from a daycare are required to have an Alternate Site Form, which includes daycare information, on file for each student with the Transportation Department.
This information is used to assign bus stops and for notification in case of an emergency. Students cannot be transported to or from daycare sites that are outside the school attendance zone.
New daycare needs or changes will need to be communicated to the Transportation Department. Alternate Site Requests must allow five days before the change can take effect. If the daycare situation changes in the course of the school year, a new form must be submitted to enact the change. Alternate Site Requests will only be accepted from a parent or guardian.
Students with Special Needs
Vehicles are equipped with two-way radios to allow drivers to communicate directly with the Transportation Department. Specially adapted seats, support and/or protective devices shall be used for all students who require such devices to ensure safe transportation. These shall be selected in consultation with the parents on the basis of the specific needs of the student.
Assistants will be assigned to supervise and assist students in transit as deemed necessary by the Director of Special Education and Transportation. Drivers and assistants are required to have in-service training in first aid and in dealing with specific needs of the children on the route.
How do I get special transportation for my child if I believe they need it due to a medical condition or because they receive special education services?
In the case of students receiving special education services, the IEP team must establish that special transportation is required as a related service in order for the student to benefit from their special education services.
In the case of a medical condition, special transportation may be provided when a team of individuals knowledgeable about the student, including parent input, evaluates the need for an accommodation under Section 504. Contact the principal or school social worker for elementary students or the school counselor for middle or high school students. Also, Minnesota law provides for special transportation for a student placed in an approved Care and Treatment program for mental health or chemical dependency treatment. Again contact the principal or school social worker for elementary students or the school counselor for middle or high school students.
Responsibilities of parents/guardians
- Have the student dressed and ready to board the vehicle five minutes prior to the scheduled pick-up time.
- Provide and assume responsibility for the movement of the student from the residence to the curbside for pick up, and from the curbside to the residence upon return of the student from school.
- Communicate problems with special transportation to Transportation at 763-552-6287.
- In the event it is determined that the matter is beyond the scope of the Transportation Department, the Special Education Director will be contacted for assistance.
Minnesota Statute 121A.59, Bus Transportation is a Privilege Not a Right
Transportation by school bus is a privilege, not a right, for an eligible student. A student’s eligibility to ride a school bus may be revoked for a violation
of school bus safety or conduct policies, or for violation of any other law governing student conduct on a school bus, pursuant to a written school district discipline policy. Revocation of a student’s bus riding privilege is not an exclusion, expulsion, or suspension under the Pupil Fair Dismissal Act. Revocation procedures for a student who is an individual with a disability under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, United States Code, title
20, section 1400 et seq., section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, United States Code, title 29, section 794, and the Americans with Disabilities Act, Public Law 101-336, are governed by these provisions.
All students, public, non-public and charter, are expected to behave in accordance with federal, state and local laws and rules, and with District and school policies and regulations, and in a way that respects the rights and safety of others. Corrective action to discipline a student and/or to modify a student’s behavior will be taken by staff when a student’s behavior does not fall within these parameters. A number of our buses are equipped with a video camera which records video and audio to monitor student behavior. We have found the cameras to be valuable for resolving student behavior issues.
Be a good neighbor
Students are expected to respect neighbors’ property as they go to or from the bus stop or wait for the bus. Good neighbors do not:
- Walk on lawns.
- Pick flowers or other plants from lawns or gardens.
- Throw stones, snowballs or other objects.
- Leave objects lying across curbs or sidewalks where they might trip other students or adults.
- Climb trees, fences, or retaining walls.
A Message to Motorists on the Road
Safety is everyone’s responsibility, please know and obey school bus laws.
Motorists who fail to stop for a school bus with RED LIGHTS FLASHING AND STOP ARM EXTENDED may be charged with a gross misdemeanor punishable by a $700 to $3,000 fine and/or one year in jail. Flashing amber (yellow) lights are a warning that the bus is preparing to stop.
Flashing red lights and extended stop arm mean that the bus is stopped either to load or unload passengers.
Did You Know?
- ISD 911 provides transportation to and from school for more than 5,200 students.
- District buses travel more than 900,000 miles each year.
- All buses must pass rigorous state inspections each year.
- All buses have two-way radios for constant contact with the dispatchers.
- Bus evacuation drills are held twice a year at all grade levels.
- ISD 911 maintains approximately 110 vehicles and employs more than 120 transportation employees.
- The school district is over 252 square miles.
On May 20, the School Board approved a plan to change our transportation model to a two-tier system beginning next fall. In a two-tier system, our primary and intermediate school students will be picked up first in the morning and our middle and high school students would be picked up later in the morning and dropped off later in the afternoon. This change comes after studying the transportation model for over two years and gaining input from families, staff, and community members. As we look forward to the start of next school year, we are excited that the new transportation model provides the following positive outcomes:
- Shorter bus rides for students
- Students riding buses with students closer in age
- Fewer routes helps with the driver shortage
- Less idle time for students on buses (positive behavioral outcomes)
- Later start times for high school students and sleep studies point to improved students attentiveness and achievement
- Equalized length of school days between buildings
- Little change to after school activities for secondary students
- Cost neutral change
2021-22 Transportation FAQ
Is before and after school childcare available?
For primary and intermediate school children, Adventure Center is open from 6 a.m. until the start of school and from dismissal after school until 6 p.m. Adventure Center is a fee-based service operated by Cambridge-Isanti Community Education. All staff are employed by Cambridge-Isanti Schools. Learn more or register here.
Will students still get breakfast at school if they are starting earlier?
Cambridge-Isanti Schools will continue to offer students breakfast as they arrive at school. For the 2021-2022 school year, the Federal meal program will provide breakfast and lunch to all students at no cost to families. Families are encouraged to take advantage of the free meal program, which ensures two nutritious meals a day for every child in our schools.
How will the 2-Tier system affect CIHS athletics and activities?
There will be no new impact on practice times or competition times for athletics and activities because the CIHS dismissal time is within a few minutes of the current time. Moving to a two-tier transportation system actually frees up buses and drivers for afterschool activities, so transportation should be more reliable for activities.
Does this transportation model cost more?
The change in transportation models is expected to be cost neutral. Rising costs in operating expenses related to labor, fuel, and maintenance are factored into the decision to change models. There is also a shortage of bus drivers, which has driven up the cost of contracting for back-up services when the District is short on drivers. The District will save on bus replacement capital expenditures because this model requires fewer buses.
What other districts are doing this model?
Districts that run a similar two-tier model, with secondary schools starting later than elementary schools, include: Princeton, Buffalo-Hanover, Sauk Rapids-Rice, Sartell-St. Stephen, St. Cloud, St. Louis Park, Edina, and Wayzata.
Will students have to use a bus transfer?
The new two-tier model eliminates the hub-and-transfer system that required more than 2,000 students to transfer buses in Cambridge and Isanti. Students will remain on the same bus that picks them up in the morning. There is also less “idle-time” because elementary students will no longer need to wait on the bus for high school dismissal and loading time before completing their route home; this decreases the total time on buses for our youngest children.
Why was this model chosen?
Cambridge-Isanti Schools has been studying transportation for more than two years seeking to equalize instructional time for students, shorten ride times, and separate younger students from older students in an effort to reduce misbehavior on buses. Because of the District’s budget concerns, cost has been an important consideration. During the pandemic, more than 50% of families volunteered to drive their children to school to ensure social distancing and the District eliminated its hub-and-transfer system, which interfered with instructional time at some schools. Bus rides also lengthened for many students and some students are on the bus for up to 2 hours each way (4 hours a day). As we return to full capacity, the existing model will no longer work. Further, within the last two years, the economics of transportation have changed. A national shortage of bus drivers has made it impossible for the District to fully staff the number of existing routes. The District has had to combine some routes (making them longer) and contract out for after school activities, which is more expensive. Years of deferred bus purchases (due to budget cuts) makes new bus purchases more expensive.
The new two-tier model has the following benefits:
- Shorter bus rides for students
- Students riding buses with students closer in age
- Fewer routes needed mitigates the impact of the driver shortage
- Less idle time for students on buses
- Sleep studies point to improved students attentiveness and achievement
- Equalized length of school days among schools
- No change for after school activities for secondary students
- Cost neutral model
How were sleep studies considered in this decision?
In considering a two-tier system, the natural questions are which schools start early and which start later. During the last decade, there have been a large number of research studies conducted on school start times and youth sleep patterns. Both the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that middle and high schools begin no earlier than 8:30 a.m. Our high school start time is currently 8:30 a.m. so when considering the two-tier model, keeping high school students on the later tier was a priority in our planning.
We are hopeful that reducing ride-times for most students will result in more sleep for all students. In preparing for the change, families might consider practicing earlier bedtimes for younger children starting in late August, at least two weeks before school starts on September 7. To learn more about the research related to adolescent sleep and school start times, visit the National Institutes of Health.
Were families consulted before this decision was made?
Families were surveyed in November 2019 and again in May 2021. More than 670 parents responded to the January survey. Only 17% of families gave a favorable opinion of the single-tier transfer system and 55.0% have an unfavorable opinion. The majority of respondents, 73.8%, stated they would prefer a two-tier system. The top priorities cited were shorter bus rides and separating older and younger students.
Is this change well thought-out? Who was involved in the planning and decision?
The District has conducted two studies of transportation. Since January a Community Task Force has been working on longer term planning and budget implications. An operations subgroup studied our transportation challenges. In April, all drivers were invited to participate in a planning discussion to identify criteria and share insights from their collective experience driving our community. Families and staff were surveyed in May, and transportation staff was also surveyed in May. Transportation planners brought forth a recommendation and school principals were tasked with redesigning master schedules based on the recommendations. The School Board discussed the recommendations at two open meetings in May. The final schedule and school start times resulted from combined input of all of these groups.