Schools adjust schedules, busing amid budget cuts
Fewer property tax dollars have schools cutting back on buses. School districts are trying to save millions, while children rise earlier, walk farther, and stay later at school.
Wayne Township Schools has fewer buses running more routes this year. As a result, starting or dismissal times of every school are changing. Elementary schools are making the biggest adjustments. Last year, they all started at 8 a.m., but this year's start times are staggered. At two schools, classes begin at 7:30 a.m.
"Oh my goodness," Veronica Sample reacted. "That's the time we head out the door."
The fifth grader fears she will be getting up at 6 a.m.
While children get less sleep, families will be juggling work and day care schedules. Five elementary schools are now starting at 8:40 a.m. and classes don't dismiss until 3:40 p.m.
Marla Sample cares for two grandchildren attending two different schools.
"If you work, you have to have babysitters before and after school. You have no other choice," she said.
"It's certainly not ideal. It's certainly not what we would do if we had the money to work with," said Wayne Township Schools spokesperson Mary Lang.
Wayne Township, like many school districts, has a lot less money to work with. Falling property values and tax caps are cutting into transportation budgets.
Twenty fewer buses and drivers, Lang said, will save Wayne Township Schools more than a million dollars.
"It certainly will be inconvenient, for some people, but in our mind, I think in the minds of most, it beats making more cuts in the classroom," Lang said.
Other budget cuts, Lang explained will leave the western Marion County school district with 40 fewer teachers this year.
Decatur Township Schools has been reducing its bus fleet for years. Students walk further from home and wait at corner bus stops. To prevent additional cuts, $800,000 intended for class room instruction, is going towards transportation.
Beech Grove residents approved a tax increase to keep their buses running.
Last year, Lawrence Township cut 15 bus routes and half-million dollars. The district is looking for ways to cut another half-million dollars this year.
IPS, facing a $30 million deficit, says its transportation budget is okay and it's not planning major changes.
After the school year is underway, don't be surprised if students have fewer field trips or have to find their own way home from after school activities.