- Schools often overlook funding sources that can help with bus challenges
- Solving school transportation issues is another way to ensure all students have equitable access to educational opportunities
- See related article: 4 best practices to support and retain school leaders
More than half of students in the U.S. attend high-poverty public schools–and in some states, that percentage is much higher. In Mississippi, for example, approximately 92 percent of students attend high-poverty schools.
These students are often subjected to daunting challenges, but getting a ride to school shouldn’t be one of them. Federally funded resources are available that can be used to help schools and districts address student transportation needs. But here’s the thing: too few districts are taking advantage of those resources. And as a result, too many students are struggling to get to their classrooms safely, consistently, and on time.
Districts are overlooking funds that could help students
The damaging impact of this struggle is something I’ve seen up close because I was both behind the wheel and behind the operations of school transportation for nearly 20 years. I started off driving a yellow school bus for the Naperville Community Unit School District in Illinois. After seven years as a driver, I became the assistant transportation director for Naperville’s school district.
I then moved to Des Moines Public Schools, where I served as the director of transportation for Iowa’s largest school district. While there, I dealt with the full range of transportation challenges schools can encounter, and had to get creative to find solutions that ensured every student had a ride to school. That experience brought me to my current role helping districts find solutions to some of the most challenging, hard-to-serve trips. For many of the districts I work with, supporting those students wouldn’t be possible without funding from Title I.