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Perry Township Schools approves redistricting plan, superintendent announces retirement

perry township school board meeting.PNG
Posted at 10:44 PM, Dec 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-13 15:35:39-05

INDIANAPOLIS — The Perry Township School Board has approved a controversial plan to help the district adapt to a shortage of bus drivers.

The board unanimously approved the plan to end school choice to make sure all bus routes are covered. The district is short about 40 drivers.

Currently, some schools do not have attendance boundaries, meaning students from all over the district would be bussed to those schools. Around 2,300 elementary students will be impacted.

"We have a lot of work to do now," Superintendent Patrick Mapes said. "We now have to make certain to put out information for all the parents to let them know where they will be attending for their 2023-2024 school year, cause this will not start until July."

Several students and parents expressed their opinions during a meeting last week. The plan will eliminate about 30 bus routes and is continuing to look for more drivers.

Under the new plan, students who live in the boundaries of the school will make up that grade level. Students who are currently in the choice program will get the remaining slots first. If more slots remain, families who fill out applications can go into those slots. If there are more applications than slots available, a lottery will take place.

"I think we'll have some kids who won't be able to be in their same school because they can't provide transportation and we'll have some kids who may not be able to stay in their same school because they don't get selected because of capacity," Mapes said.

The goal is to have 23-25 students per classroom. Mapes says students who are siblings will get priority.

When asked if this plan was a compromise, Mapes said he agreed because instead of doing all open spaces as a lottery, students currently in the program have a priority.

"Why are we looking at this? We have to fix our transportation problem and we truly feel that this will fix our transportation problem. We'll get in the weeds a little later with the routes, but we think we'll get somewhere around 30 routes back and that will allow us to get kids home on time, which we currently cannot do."

Mapes says they are still working on the specifics of the plan and will send communication to parents in the coming days. Applications may not be open until February because the document needs to be drafted and board approved.

"We needed a decision [Monday] night, either for or against, because we have to move forward getting ready for the next school year," Mapes said.

Mapes was also asked about student behavior on the bus, which is something he says is always a concern. He believes reducing student wait times will take care of some of the issues they're seeing.

On Tuesday, the district announced Mapes is retiring effective June 30, 2023. He joined the district in 2016.

The search for a new superintendent is scheduled to begin on Dec. 21.