APS Board confirms new busing schedule

Published 6:38 pm Friday, April 1, 2022

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A lengthy study of how to improve busing for Austin Public Schools reached a conclusion Thursday when the School Board voted unanimously to adopt a new busing schedule starting next year.

The new schedule doesn’t change a whole lot from the current schedule but school administration and the board hope that the new schedule will streamline the process, as well as cut down on ride times for students.

“We can all remember busing was a real challenge at the beginning of this year and subsequent years,” Superintendent Dr. Joey Page said. “[The Bell Time Study] gave us a clear picture of busing system and where it was falling short.”

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The Bell Time Study was completed last month and the recommended changes were released not long after.

In particular, IJ Holton will begin its day at 8 a.m. as normal, but will let out 15 minutes later at 3 p.m. Meanwhile, Ellis Middle School will start its day 30 minutes earlier at 8 a.m. and let out at 3 p.m. rather than the current 3:25 p.m.

Austin High School will still begin its day at 8:30 a.m. and let out 15 minutes later at 3:30 p.m.

It is hoped that this process will help in a number of different areas including in part:

• Limit grade level spread per bus;

• Shorten ride times;

• Eliminate/reduce transfers as much as possible; and

• Reduce traffic congestion in school areas at arrival and dismissal.

It’s also hoped that this will take some of the pressure off of Palmer Bus Service, which has been juggling a shortage of bus drivers with the current busing situation.

While the board agreed that the new changes are beneficial, some voiced a hope that situations like this will be handled better in the future.

“This caused a lot of anxiety in the community,” said Board Member Cece Kroc. “Looking back, I’m going to look at ways to not get to that point until we’re ready. We got a wonderful conclusion to this problem, but I’m really sorry for the amount of angst for families.”