In 2012, Maine became one of several states in the country to develop and launch a daily Walking School Bus program – bringing in an experienced and well-known national consultant (PedNet Consulting) through the National Center for Safe Routes to School and hosting two trainings – one in Portland and one in Augusta. This was funded by the Maine Department of Transportation (MaineDOT), the Bicycle Coalition of Maine, and Maine Safe Routes to School. The comprehensive Portland Walking School Bus Program ran as a pilot in 2013 and 2014 at three elementary schools.
Following the highly successful completion pilot in June 2014 a new program was launched: The Maine Walking School Bus Program (a partnership of the Maine Center for Disease Control, the Bicycle Coalition of Maine, and MaineDOT). Portland’s East End Community School was chosen as the first school under this new program and during it’s 2-year term offered the chance to vet the statewide application process, the development of our technical assistance, and program equipment and marketing materials.
- Portland’s East End Community School graduated in June 2016. The school continues to run a successful and very active program, which you can read more about here.
- Norway’s Guy E. Rowe School graduated in December 2016. The school’s program was active to the point that the very-local bus service was cancelled and all respective students now participate in a daily Walking School Bus both to and from school. More info about the Rowe School’s WSB Program.
- Ellsworth Elementary School also graduated in December 2016. The school’s program picks up kids at their house and also from the local YMCA’s A.M. daycare program. More info about Ellsworth’s WSB Program.
In January 2016, the Albert S. Hall School in Waterville and the Downeast School in Bangor were selected to be part of the statewide WSB Program. Those two schools launched their daily walking school bus programs in the spring of 2016 and will continue with the Maine WSB Program until the spring of 2018.
Four new schools were brought into the program in January 2017: Vine Street Elementary School in Bangor, Abraham Lincoln Elem. School in Bangor, Riverton Elem. School in Portland, and Farwell Elem. School in Lewiston. These schools became the recipients of grants from the Maine Walking School Bus Program and plan to launch their daily walking school bus programs in the spring of 2017.
What Program Funding and Assistance Entails
Once a school is chosen to participate in the Maine WSB Program, it receives funding for a period of up to two years. This provides:
- funding for a WSB Coordinator within the school. This means there is a point-person at the school each day to recruit community volunteers, support and engage families and students, design and coordinate routes, handle questions and behavior reports, offer general walk and bicycling encouragement across the student population, and create a long term, sustainable program at the school. Successful applicants will be eligible for up to $5000 in direct funding to pay for an average of 7 hours of weekly WSB Coordinator time to support the program. (See a sample job description of the WSB Coordinator here).
- WSB safety and program equipment (e.g., safety vests and flags, volunteer backpacks, Frequent Walker Cards, etc.)
- WSB marketing materials(like this recruiting poster and this rack card for volunteers and another for parents)
- ongoing technical assistance from WSB Program staff. This includes assisting the school with hiring the best person to be the WSB Coordinator, conducting an initial school & community WSB tworkshop that includes the new coordinator, and providing ongoing guidance and troubleshooting help to the coordinator and other school staff as needed (an average of 2 hours per week of technical assistance).
For more details please see our Frequently Asked Questions page.