Polk County Schools making cuts to bus service

Polk County

Polk County Schools will be cutting bus service for nearly 1,200 students who live within two miles of their school.

Transportation officials said that includes more than 400 of those are elementary school students. 

“We can look at those on a case-by-case basis, but most of the ones we have looked at have been vetted, and the ones for the elementary schools have been vetted,” Belcher said.

Next year, those students will have to find rides or walk to school.

“We don’t want to make it harder for anyone but we do have to provide transportation for the students that are eligible,” Belcher said.

Transportation officials say there are a few factors in their decision to make cuts. They hope to eliminate a bus driver shortage, get students to school on time and save the district around $130,000.

“We’re approximately 28 drivers short so there’s issues there that were having. We’re providing a lot of out of zone transportation or larger zone transportation, which is taxing us when it comes to the number of drivers that we have and the routes that we have,” Belcher said.

Belcher said they are having issues getting students to school on time.

The district is also cutting bus service to 12 Polk County Charter schools whose students are still being transported by the district. Those schools would have access to the district’s surplus buses and training, however they would have to hire their own drivers.

“We’re going to provide them with as much information as possible for them to set up their transportation. We have a lot of charters now that are providing their own transportation and they are doing really well at it,” Belcher said.

The cuts will go into effect next school year.

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