JCPS Board of Education to vote on transportation plan for the 2024-25 school year

Buses park between Manual High and Noe Middle. Photo by Lydia Morgan.
Buses park between Manual High and Noe Middle. Photo by Lydia Morgan.
Lydia

After finalizing the four options for student transportation for the 2024-25 school year, the JCPS board will make a final decision at the March 26 meeting.

On Tuesday, Mar. 19, Chief Operations Officer Dr. Rob Fulk presented the four main options to the JCPS advisory committee. Considering the continued bus driver shortage and the “transportation disaster” on the first day of the 2023-24 school year, JCPS believes finding a new option is the only way. 

The four options were presented as follows:

Option one would only provide transportation for students who attend their residential school. This would cut transportation for the 13,000 students currently attending magnet and traditional schools, such as duPont Manual, Central, J. Graham Brown, Butler, Male and more.This option would also eliminate around 100 current bus routes. 

Little information was provided for option two; essentially JCPS would create bus drop-off and pick-up hubs located around the city.

The third option for the school system is to keep the current “Start Smart” transportation plan that was introduced this school year. 

A new fourth option was presented for the first time Tuesday night. JCPS would provide transportation for magnet and traditional schools, but only to those who meet a 70 percent threshold of economically disadvantaged students. 

The last board meeting in which these ideas were presented was Dec. 5, 2023. 

All original options presented December 5th, 2023, in a presentation labeled “Preparing for 2024-25”

Currently, JCPS is providing 569 bus routes with 553 drivers. Fulk projects that they will be at 529 drivers next school year. The district is aiming for 474 routes or fewer next school year. 

As JCPS expects these numbers to continuously decrease, the decision made this upcoming Tuesday will implement a hopeful long-term solution. While option one would allow the district to reach the goal routes, the board would need to re-evaluate every year if the trend of drivers leaving at a higher rate than hiring continues.

“That honesty is, in my position, what keeps me up at night. What does it look like in two years from now? And then what adjustments can we make? If we hit, let’s say, 400 drivers. If we [lose] 150 more, the question would really revolve around what reside group do we need to change the service delivery model for?” Fulk said. 

Infographic presenting the district’s data on routes and bus drivers numbers, from 2015-present.

On Thursday, March 21, JCPS made an official recommendation to implement the plan to cut all traditional and magnet school transportation. The district believes this option will guarantee students getting to school and home on time.

In addition, JCPS is looking at giving stipends to parents who are transporting their students to and from the magnet and traditional schools $5 per day as well as $10 a day for families qualifying for free and reduced lunch.

They also are currently pursuing a partnership with TARC to offer student passes that can be used any day of the week.

The district is asking for feedback on the plan. To weigh in, click here.

The JCPS Board of Education will vote on the transportation plan on Tuesday, Mar. 26.

About the Contributor
Morgan Schmidt, Social Media Director
Morgan Schmidt is the Social Media Director for Manual RedEye. You can contact her at [email protected].
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