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Perry Township considers end to school choice for elementary students

The proposal would establish boundaries in the district for its 11 elementary schools, likely meaning some students will have to switch schools next year.

INDIANAPOLIS — Perry Township Schools administrators are considering a proposal to end parents being able to choose where their kids go to elementary school.  

The proposal would establish boundaries in the district for its 11 elementary schools and would likely mean some of the district’s elementary school kids would have to switch schools next year.   

Driving the proposal, district officials say, is a shortage of school bus drivers. 

That’s what they told parents who came to Monday night’s school board meeting where preliminary details of the proposal were discussed. 

“To take my fourth grader and move him to another school, it’s going to devastate him,” Jennifer Byrd told the school board as they consider a proposal district officials say would help the district’s busing system run more efficiently. 

Byrd’s concerns were shared by several parents, worried about young children, who they say have already had enough uncertainty in the past two years during the pandemic.  

“We cannot keep asking them to be resilient, to bounce back and to sacrifice, all to solve adult problems,” said mom Lesley Wells. 

RELATED: Perry Township mom says bus driver repeatedly misses son's stop

The problem the district is currently facing and trying to solve is a bus driver shortage.   

District officials say they don’t have enough drivers for all the routes needed if parents are allowed to continue choosing schools that aren’t close to home.  

“There are just not that many people out there who are looking to be school bus drivers right now,” explained Superintendent Patrick Mapes. 

According to the current proposal, the new school boundaries would cut 16 bus routes, making the remaining ones shorter and filling the buses closer to capacity.  

“We have to find a different way to transport our students,” Mapes said. 

RELATED: IPS teachers call for changes, compromise from district on massive redistricting proposal

At what cost to their kids’ academic and social well-being though, ask concerned parents. 

“We recognize you know transportation better than we do, but we know our kids better than you do,” Wells told the board. 

District officials say they’re still in the early stages of creating a map with finalized boundaries. 

The school board wouldn’t get a look at that map until Nov. 28. They wouldn’t vote on it until Dec. 12. Any changes wouldn’t take effect until the start of the new school year in 2023. 

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