DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Non-DPS charter students will now have to ride RTA buses to school or find alternate forms of transportation. The decision was made June 16 by the DPS Board of Education after a recommendation by Superintendent Dr. Elizabeth Lolli. Dr. Lolli says the transportation discussions with RTA have been taking place since last Fall. Now, with the coronavirus pandemic, it is a “perfect storm” of an opportunity, since DPS is not able to safely bus all students in any case.
This transportation decision affects nearly 4,000 non-DPS students, and will save the district around $7 million. Dr. Lolli says the district was facing a shortage of school bus drivers, overwhelming their transportation system and often leaving DPS students stranded for hours with no rides home.
“It’s not a matter of trying to create problems for anyone else, it’s trying to solve problems for our own students here at Dayton Public,” she said.
Some charter school administrators say they are furious with the decision, citing a lack of communication with DPS and safety concerns for students.
“I can understand as a parent [that] putting my young 5-year-old on a city bus- who’s already scared, already concerned about a new environment- it will just not be feasible,” said Dr. Landon Brown, principal of Emerson Academy in Dayton.
Dr. Lolli says the students will be bused using limited service routes, which will decrease access to regular riders. However, she recommends each charter school hire adult attendants to ride the buses with the students. If they choose not to, then parents will be given “parent passes” to ride with students from home, to school, and back.
A meeting is planned between DPS and charter schools to discuss further options in July, but Dr. Brown says he would have preferred to be contacted before because now it may be too late to adjust as school starts in about 6 weeks.
“There’s an opportunity for us to look at different busing companies, but that contract deadline was back in December,” he said. “To not include us in the decision making process makes it seem as if our input is not valued and that is unacceptable.”
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