The formation of the ESD 112 Specialized Transportation Cooperative was the result of changes in Washington Laws (1983-84) that allowed Educational Service Districts to offer certain transportation services on the basis of both membership assessments and fee for capital expenditure development.
The Specialized Transportation Cooperative came into existence in September of 1983. At the program start up the Cooperative transported 26 special needs students on three buses. The ESD currently provides transportation services in twenty-three of the District’s thirty local school districts and serves 161 individual schools. In addition to services to individual districts, the ESD also provides access to two state special needs schools located in the Vancouver area.
Scope of Operations
ESD 112 Specialized Transportation Cooperative transports an average of 300 students daily, utilizing a fleet of 50 specially equipped buses and offers access to all educational facilities in the ESD-service area that are State of Washington approved. Services are also provided to pre-approved State of Oregon learning facilities.
The Cooperative has specific criteria for offering services that include Special needs students with an IEP requiring transportation as a related service, Homeless Students as identified in the McKinney-Vento Act, access to Early Intervention programs and the Washington State School for the Deaf and the Washington State School for the Blind.
ESD 112 Specialized Transportation Cooperative is designed to accommodate the ”high-cost/low incident” situations often accompanying special needs students. Each participating school district enters into an annual contractual agreement with the ESD that defines the responsibilities of both parties. The cost to the local district is determined by their student enrollment and the number of students transported.
Management of Operations
Given the area served by the ESD, it is not practicable to house all the buses in one location. Therefore, the service model includes a “park out” component that helps minimize student travel time as well as “dead head” mileage. This offers a unique opportunity for communication between management staff and drivers. A Nextel system of phones/radios assist with the communication and management staff hold monthly face-to-face Driver Council meetings. Minutes from these meetings are provided to all drivers/attendants. Scheduling driver meetings can be particularly problematic given the ESDs need to accommodate all of the different school calendars. Added communication with drivers is afforded via e-mail and interdepartmental mail delivery.
The Transportation Cooperative currently employees 40 Regular Drivers 5 Cover Drivers and 3 Bus Attendants. Program oversight is provided by an Advisory Committee that includes local district superintendents from participating school districts.