Mar 20, 2024 - News

Transportation changes coming to IPS

Illustration of a school bus cut out from a bright yellow background.

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Need a ride to school? You better speak up. Starting this fall, Indianapolis Public Schools will only provide bus service to students who request it.

Why it matters: The opt-in transportation policy is a major shift in how the district operates.

  • Previously, all students eligible for transportation were automatically given a bus stop and placed on a route.
  • This district is transitioning away from that practice as part of a larger overhaul of its school assignment policy and grade configuration, which is designed to be more accessible, equitable, and efficient.

What happened: William Murphy, IPS chief operations officer, said the district started examining bus ridership levels last year and noticed that some students who were automatically assigned to a bus had never taken it.

  • "We realized that we had an issue in that, by assuming people were going to ride the bus, we didn't ever actually ask them if they wanted to ride the bus."
  • Last summer, it asked families to start opting in but treated this as a transition year and still routed all eligible students.

What they found: About 19,000 students opted in, while roughly 2,000 students who had been routed did not want bus service.

How it works: From now until July 1, students who want bus service should indicate so during registration.

  • Students with a school assignment for next year can opt into transportation now and get their likely route and bus stop within the next few weeks.
  • Families can change their minds or opt into bus service later, but Murphy said anyone who signs up after the July 1 deadline may need to wait a few days or weeks to receive their assignment.

What they're saying: "It is not great for kids to be on a bus for 90 minutes in the morning, especially smaller children," Murphy said. "So one of the things that is really beneficial is the efficiency that families can expect to see."

What do you think about the new policy? Reply to this email and let us know.

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