Transporting students to and from school for about 10 months in a year is not cheap. When a district is watching its nickels and dimes, as the Akron school district is, it is necessary to review decades-old policies to ensure efficient use of resources.
Akron Public Schools officials have responded to diminished school revenue the past few years with a mix of cost-cutting measures, including layoffs, school closings and reductions in benefits and services. Transportation has been part of the effort. The district spent $4 million last year transporting its own and charter school students.
Beginning with this fall’s freshman class, the district is phasing out free passes on Metro RTA buses to high schools. The service to a few hundred students (436 last year) dates to the late 1970s and the Akron Plan remedy for racial segregation in the city schools.
In addition to the passes, the district pays Metro RTA for dedicated routes, the bus system dropping off students before and after school. In 2010, the bus passes and 27 dedicated routes cost the district roughly $570,000. The routes have since been cut to three. School officials calculate that the fewer routes and phasing out the bus passes will amount to about $400,000 a year in savings.
State law does not require, and the district does not offer, busing for regular high school students. The district, reasonably, is trying to trim costs. The duty remains to help students with no other means find a reliable alternative for getting to school.