Monroe County Community School Corporation administrators presented an update on the district’s progress towards equitable transportation during a school board meeting Tuesday night.
Adam Terwilliger, MCCSC director of finance and logistics, gave the first in a series of updates the board will receive through April on progress towards the school corporation’s strategic plan, which includes Equity Goal 1. This goal outlines MCCSC’s commitment to ensure safe and reliable transportation that increases all students’ access to education. Terwilliger said equitable and efficient transportation is crucial to maximizing students’ educational time.
Data collected by MCCSC showed 32 different buses ran late to school at least once during April 2022, with 10 of those buses running late over seven times in one month. Those delays meant students on late buses lost an average of 20 to 35 minutes of instructional time per week.
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“That equates to about a week in a school year,” Terwilliger said. “It would be committing educational malpractice to not acknowledge that reality and do something about it.”
MCCSC did do something about it — they switched from a two-tiered route system to a four-tiered system with 85 routes for the 2022-23 school year. The transition meant the district went from two start times — one for high school and middle school and one for elementary schools — to four different start times.
The four-tiered system also means MCCSC needs less bus drivers than before, yet a bus driver shortage still occurred at the start of this school year, resulting in MCCSC families experiencing up to 45-minutes bus delays. Terwilliger reported the district now has 78 bus drivers and bus routes are running more smoothly.
“Employee shortages at the start of this year did lead to delays, we have to acknowledge,” Terwilliger said. “However, less delays and less in length than what would have occurred in a two-tiered system. Absolutely we’re in a situation where we’re better equipped to handle those delays even though unfortunately, they did exist.”
New data from August and Sept. of this school year showed 29 different buses ran late to school at least once, with six of those buses running late over seven times in one month. These delays resulted in students on late buses losing an average of 10 to 20 minutes of instructional time per week. While not perfect, Terwilliger noted MCCSC transportation had improved in all transportation metrics measured.
The presentation concluded with administrators responding to equity feedback and questions submitted by the MCCSC community, staff and board members through an online form.
One submitted question asked if MCCSC had the capacity to meet the before and after school care needs of the community. Director of Elementary Education Debra Prenkert said later elementary school starts times led to increased demand for before school care, with 351 more students requiring morning supervision than last school year. Additionally, 207 more students than last school year need afternoon supervision.
Despite the increased need, Prenkert said MCCSC has been able to meet all requests for Extended Day care. MCCSC families with free and reduced meal plans can receive Extended Day care for free this year, she said.
“This is a huge celebration,” Prenkert said. “I’m very pleased to report this year we do not have any children on a waitlist, we are serving all of our students.”