Indianapolis, Indiana – In just a week’s time, Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) will be welcoming back more than 30,000 students and educators for the new academic year, starting Monday, July 31. The school district is busily preparing for the upcoming session.
In recent years, the school district has outsourced its bus operations to First Student, a private entity. A spokesperson for the company disclosed to Indiana Today News that it will be operating upwards of 200 bus routes within the IPS boundaries.
Although many school districts nationwide grapple with a lack of bus drivers, First Student has expressed confidence in its staffing level. It boasts a team of over 250 drivers, supported by a strong pipeline of potential drivers currently undergoing training or scheduled to do so.
Nonetheless, IPS is not wholly reliant on First Student for student transportation. This year, the district is initiating a partnership with local public transit system, IndyGo. Certain high school students will be using this system as their sole transportation to and from school, with an average commute time expected to be around 25 minutes.
In preparation for the upcoming school year, IndyGo will host a back-to-school event at the Carson Transit Center on Thursday, July 27, from 6-8 p.m. The event will include the provision of a discounted fare ID card, a free backpack, and other informational resources.
Simultaneously, IPS is also promoting its “Take Care, Be Aware” campaign. This initiative will see educators providing in-class lessons centered around safety protocols during school commute, whether by foot, bus, car, or bicycle.
First Student acknowledges the potential for initial hiccups as the new school year begins. It is not uncommon to encounter bus delays during the first few weeks, as drivers familiarize themselves with new routes and safety regulations. The company has thus appealed for patience and understanding during this period.
Further, this year, IPS is also introducing a fleet of privately-owned SUVs, intended to transport children who are the only students residing in their neighborhood, ensuring a safe commute to and from school.