Your Policies & Procedures
- Determine Walking School Bus Schedule
- Seasonal (fall and spring) vs. September to June?
- To and/or from school? (This depends on ability to recruit volunteers – which is sometimes more difficult in the afternoon.)
- Number of days per week? (Daily is recommended for consistency for families.)
- If the WSB will operate on late start days, etc.
- Establish Your General WSB Program Policies – see this recommended policies and procedures sheet in PDF and Word
- Parent/Guardian Permission – WSB Student Registration Form in PDF and Word
- Requirements for Volunteers
- E.g., Background checks (recommended for family confidence in program)
- See Volunteer Recruitment, Training, & Maintenance page for more info
- Behavior, Emergency & Safety Policies
- Hazardous Weather/Cancellation Policy
- Each school must decide on it’s own policy. However, to offer consistent service for students and families, we recommend the WSB run rain or shine and cancel only for severe weather (thunderstorms, hail, or frigid cold).
- Schools encourage students to be appropriately dressed for rain and cold/snow WSB-Incident-Report-Form and can work with community groups to address student needs for clothing (e.g., boots, snowpants, scarves to cover faces, rain gear, etc.)
- To determine frigid temperature cancellations, we recommend the use of the NOAA Windchill Chart – keeping in mind the amount of time the volunteers and the first students on the route will be outside, which is generally 30 minutes.
- Determine who will make cancellation decision (generally WSB Coordinator)
- Determine method(s) of communicating cancellations (phone call, text, school robo-call system, WSB website, backpack mail (if 1 day advance notice))
- Do Baseline Surveys & Follow-up Surveys:
- Maine’s WSB Parent Survey – This is a double-sided sheet that can be printed out for parents/guardians to complete. One side of the sheet is used to collect travel tendencies, concerns parents might have with a WSB program, and other info. The other side defines the program for volunteers and parents. To edit the document: after clicking the above link click on ‘File’, ‘Download as’, then ‘docx’.
- Student In-Class Travel Tally – This is a 2-3 day simple show-of-hands survey generally taken during morning attendance. For current best-case-scenario results, the Tallies would likely need to be done in September/ October or May/June. The ideal is to take a pre-program baseline tally and then a later tally after the program has been up and running for a while. The National Center for Safe Routes to School produces a helpful report from these tallies.
- Parent Survey on Walking and Biking to School – This is a simple double-sided sheet for parents/guardians to complete either online or on paper. The National Center for Safe Routes to School also produces a helpful report from these surveys.
- Create Feedback System for families and students, volunteers, school & community – WSB Coordinator makes day-to-day improvements from anecdotal feedback. Twice a year meet with WSB Team to review any surveys, revise policies & make updates to program.
- Establish School or District Walk & Bike to School Policy – Some districts have adopted these, including the Portland School District. See sample Walk & Bike to School Policy here: (PDF) (Word).
The Maine Walking School Bus Program provides:
- Up to $5,000 in direct funding to pay for an average of 8 hours of weekly WSB Coordinator time to support the program – for up to two years
- WSB safety and program equipment
- WSB marketing materials (like this recruiting poster and this rack card for volunteers and another for parents)
- ongoing technical assistance from WSB Program staff, an average of 2 hours per week.
In addition to this funding and materials assistance, local communities are encouraged to solicit donations from local businesses and individuals for:
- simple first aid kit supplies for volunteers
- folders for volunteer packets
- student incentives (monthly prizes, etc.)
- volunteer and student recognition
- local program signage
The local program is also strongly encouraged to seek business and other local sponsorships to sustain the program after the grant period ends.