HCS Transportation ready for the new school year including new options for Future Ready Institutes
Posted on 08/11/2020
Photo: Hamilton County Schools school bus gets ready for the new school yearBuses are ready to roll for the new school year for Hamilton County Schools when the school year starts Wednesday. There are always questions about routes, bus stop locations, and times. The new year also brings new options for students who attend a Future Ready Institute in a high school out of the student’s district. New bus Hubs have been developed to get students to the Future Ready Institute that matches the student’s career goals and ambitions.

A page on the Hamilton County Schools website is dedicated to transportation with resources for parents to find routes, locate stops, and request new stops for the year. Click on “Bus Transportation” on the drop-down options under the tab “Parents & Students to reach the Transportation Department page. Once on the page, you will find a video about transportation that will share bus cleaning and riding procedures for the new year. Families electing to begin the year learning at home will lower the number of children on the bus. We also understand that families may decide to take their children to school because of COVID-19 concerns, and this will also help.

To find a bus stop near your home, click on the school bus yellow “Bus Stop Finder” button on the page. When you click the button, you will see a Pop-up on-screen with directions on how to use the Bus Stop Finder. The yellow button just below the stop finder labeled “Bus Stop Requests” is for submitting a new bus stop request. When you click the button for a request, you will see directions on how stops are determined. Click on the blue link at the bottom of the page to access the form to submit a request. The page will also list the Transportation Hotline telephone number 423-498-5555 for questions or inquiries related to buses, stops, schedules, or anything related to transportation of children to school and home again.

The site also provides contact information to share concerns with contract buses or drivers (buses numbered 1 to 199) and contact information for First Student, our bus service provider of buses numbered 200 and above.

The addition of bus connections to get students to Future Ready Institutes outside of their home school area will open a new world of opportunity for high school students in the district. The award-winning schools within a school that prepare our graduates for success after high school and careers of the future are located in high schools across the district and will begin their third year of operation this school year.

STEM School Chattanooga will act as a central transfer Hub for the routes to get students from their home school area to Future Ready Institutes. The bus schedule will be determined by the starting time and ending time (or Tier) of the school where the Future Ready Institute is located the student attends. The schools are in three tiers on the schedule based on starting and ending times. Starting point Hub sites where students will catch a bus to begin their trip to the Future Ready Institute of their choice are at locations north and south of the Tennessee River. Sites north of the river are Hixson High, Red Bank High, Thrasher Elementary, and Soddy Daisy High. Locations south of the river are Ooltewah High, the Publix location on East Brainerd Road, STEM School Chattanooga at Chattanooga State, and The Howard High School.

First, find the tier designation of the school (Future Ready Institute) your child will attend. Next, find the pick-up time and bus number for the FRI Hub Starting Point in the morning that will take your student to the central Transfer HUB at STEM School. Finally, find the transfer time and bus number for the connecting bus that will take your student from the STEM School Transfer Hub to the destination Future Ready Institute school.

You will also find the returning times and bus numbers for the afternoon on the return information. First, find the bus and times from the Future Ready Institute to the STEM Transfer Hub. Next, find the departure time and bus number from the STEM Transfer Hub to the beginning Hub location where your child will be returned to the place the student started in the morning.

We hope this transportation service will allow more students to enroll in a Future Ready Institute that matches their career goals.

Future Ready Institutes began in the fall of 2017 in Hamilton County Schools and challenged the traditional approach to education in high schools by developing career-themed small learning communities. Teachers of all content areas, including English, math, science, and social studies, work closely with the career theme teacher to provide classroom instruction through the lens of a career. The goal is for students to clearly understand why a classroom lesson is essential and how young learners will use the information in the future. Themes in the institutes include medicine, robotics, forensic science, engineering, hospitality, technology, and more.

Local businesses and industries have joined the district to provide professional expertise for the institutes by sharing resources, offering intern experiences, redesigning lab and classroom space, and putting the organization’s name on the institute. Leading area organizations now partnering with an institute include Erlanger Hospital, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, EPB, See Rock City, Inc., Bryan College, BlueCross, and CHI Memorial Hospital. Unum provided funding for teacher training to get Future Ready Institutes started, and J.P Morgan Chase also supported the work with funding to get the program off the ground.

The success of the institutes spread early as The Urban League of Greater Chattanooga awarded the program its Community Impact Award in the first year. Word spread to Washington, D. C. last year and resulted in a visit by Frank Brogan, U.S. Department of Education assistant secretary of elementary and secondary education. Brogan stopped at Tyner Academy to see students and teachers at work. The visiting dignitaries were impressed by the work students were doing and the opportunities they are receiving in the institutes.

“The students in this program are doing things that I did not do until I was well into my college program,” said Brogan. “Instead of just thinking about a topic, these students are actually doing the work, and that is incredible and significant to the future of students in our schools.”