Information on Transportation

Eligibility

By statute school districts are required to transport students living more than 2 miles from school. In Rochester, students in grades K-5 living more than 1.25 miles, grades 6-8 living more than 1.5 miles and 9-12 living more than 2 miles are provided transportation.

How does the district measure the distance between a child’s home and the school?

The non-busing boundaries are computer generated using a positional accurate map from the Olmsted County GIS division. The distance is generated from property entrance to property entrance using the shortest path taking into account walk paths, etc.

Bus Assignment

Allowing children to ride buses they are not assigned to may cause overcrowding on those buses, preventing the students assigned to them from having a safe and comfortable ride. Consistency of routes is also very important for safety. Therefore, students must ride only the buses to which they are assigned. In order to be fair and consistent, this policy applies to all students. Students will not be allowed to ride with friends for any reason. 

I would like my child to ride the bus home with a friend. How can I arrange this?

Students are to ride their assigned bus due to space limitations and student tracking. If you are called out of town on an emergency, a temporary care form can be filled out. This will be honored if there is a bus in the area with room for the student. Only the Temporary Care form will be honored, signed notes from parents are not accepted.

Bus Stops

Bus stops are determined by need and location of bus riders and may change from year to year. Students must use the stop assigned unless another stop is approved by the Transportation staff. It is not unusual for students to walk several blocks to an assigned bus stop. Bus drivers are not required to stop if there are no students waiting, so it is important for students to be at the stop a few minutes before bus time, waiting to board the bus.

Route Timing

When school opens in the fall, inconsistencies in route timings are often experienced. Fortunately, the weather during that time of the year is usually quite pleasant and we appreciate your patience as the drivers get familiar with their routes and riders. As the year progresses, the times should be more consistent, but it is still a good idea to be at the bus stop no more than 5 to 10 minutes ahead of the scheduled pick-up time. The weather, traffic, and students not riding can affect the timing.

Child Care

The district will provide transportation to and from a daycare as long as the daycare address meets the same requirements as your home address.

Also, transportation to and from daycare must be consistent meaning that the pickup and drop off point must be the same every day.

Transportation can be provided to and/or from child care if the following circumstances exist:

  • The child care is in the attendance area of the school your child attends.
  • The child care address is more than 1.25 miles from the school.
  • Child Care Request form is completed in its entirety and signed by both parent and child care giver.
  • The child care, in cases of kindergarten students, has the same AM/PM assignment.

Requests for transportation from child care must be made every school year using the form available in the Transportation Office | Room 122, Edison Building, 615 7th Street SW, Rochester, MN. 

Medical Conditions

If your student has a medical condition that could result in a medical emergency while being transported, such as; seizures, diabetes, asthma, and/or a life threatening allergy, please obtain and complete the Transportation/Health Form at your child’s school before the first day of school.

Temporary Transportation

Temporary transportation is available if the parent/guardian is going to be out of town i.e. family emergency and can be accommodated by an existing route. A Temporary Care Request Form (available in the Transportation Office) must be completed at least three days prior to departure.

Change of Address

If you move during the school year, please complete a Change of Address Form at your earliest opportunity. It will take three to five working days to change your child’s routing. Early notification will prevent interrupted bus service.

Inclement Weather

In the event of inclement weather, some route adjustments may be necessary. On occasion, the driver may have to make spontaneous decisions based on localized conditions.

Announcements regarding school closing/late starts will be broadcast on area television and radio stations. 

Riding Privileges

In Minnesota, riding a school bus is a privilege and not a right. Each local school district has adopted rules of conduct for waiting at the bus stop and riding the school bus. If your child does not follow the rules, your child could lose their bus riding privileges for the entire school year.

Parents and guardians should read and explain these rules to their children. We ask your cooperation in helping us provide a safe and pleasant ride for all students by impressing upon your child(ren) the importance of bus safety and courtesy at the bus stop and on the bus.

Frequently Asked Questions on Transportation

Below are commonly asked questions about the transportation services provided by Rochester Public Schools. Please read the following questions before contacting the Transportation Office with questions.

I am open enrolling my child into your district. What are the responsibilities of the enrolling district regarding transportation?

The enrolling district has the obligation to transport from the district line. In Rochester, a safe location as close to the district line as possible is designated for the bus stop.

How far can a school district require a child to walk to a bus stop?

There is nothing in state law or rule about the distance between the child’s home and the bus stop. This is true for all grade levels.

Visibility of a bus stop from the child’s home is not a deciding factor for bus stops. In Rochester, students living in cul-de-sac up to ½ mile are expected to walk out to the intersection. It is not uncommon for students to walk up to 3 blocks.

The only exception would be for a special education student. 

Is the school district required to transport children who live less than 2 miles from school if there is a hazard between the home and the school?

No. A school district may transport children who would encounter an extraordinary traffic, drug, or crime hazard if they walked, but the school district is not required to provide transportation. In Rochester, the district provides adult crossing guards at 39 locations and does bus for a very limited amount of hazardous conditions, due to extraordinary traffic hazards.

Who determines what conditions are extraordinary traffic, drug, or crime hazards?

The school district would determine what conditions would be considered hazardous. In Rochester, the district consults with the city traffic engineer to get advice on this subject.

My child doesn’t qualify for busing. Can I pay for transportation?

Yes. There is an opportunity for families that don’t qualify for busing based on distance to pay for transportation. For more information please review the pay-to-ride option webpage.

Is there a law or rule that limits the amount of time a child can spend on the school bus?

There is nothing in state law or rule that sets a maximum amount of time a child can spend on the school bus. Local school districts may adopt a maximum time in their School Board’s transportation policy.

In Rochester, our goal is to keep rides as close to one hour as possible, but students in outlying areas do have rides longer than one hour.

Are there any laws and rules that limit the passenger seating on a school bus?

Yes. The number of children on the school bus cannot be more than the number of passengers that can be fully seated. The seating capacity must be adjusted according to each passenger’s physical size, but cannot be more than the manufacturer’s rated seating capacity for the bus. No child is allowed to stand while the bus is in motion.