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Parents react to IPS transportation plan that could force thousands of students to walk

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Posted at 8:39 PM, Apr 27, 2021

INDIANAPOLIS — An important vote Thursday night will impact many IPS students and their families, in terms of getting to and from school during the upcoming school year.

The school district said this will help financially. However, parents and the community believe this may not be the best solution.

Busy intersections on top of a list of other safety concerns, it could cause quite a stir for parents to wrap their mind around the idea of their child walking to and from school everyday.

For nearly 7,000 families, after a vote Thursday evening, the outcome could possibly become their new reality.

"It's surprising that that's what they would cut out," Dana Padilla, an IPS parent said.

"A lot of parents can't stay at home, make sure their child gets to school safely and work a regular 40 hours a week and bring home enough money to have a substantial living. So, it's a trickle-down effect in many different areas that I don't think we're quite ready for," Ginai Lewis-Manning explained.

"The more we spread out, the more we're going to have problems with transportation, schools, and everything," Norman Evans added.

"I wouldn't let them walk by themselves," Padilla said.

"One of the priorities I had going into thinking about finding these savings was to ensure that we could keep shifts as far away from our classrooms, teaching and learning experience as possible. So, I believe that this is one of the strategies we're leveraging to keep our teaching and learning environment intact," Aleesia Johnson, IPS Superintendent said.

The school system has a projected $18 million deficit going into the upcoming 2021-2022 school year.

If this transportation plan passes, it will free up nearly $7 million.

This brings an unnerving feeling across the community about the safety of those children who will now be expected to walk and or use IndyGo to get to school.

"We used to have a community effort than we do now," Evans said.

He remembers walking to school when he was younger. Back then, he said it was common to walk to school.

Although he doesn't have children in the school system, Evans said that this could be a bit problematic due to things being a lot different now than what they were.

"You have a much bigger problem when you have the younger kids having to walk alone to school. Regardless of the situation," Evans said. "You got cars running up and down the street, you have crazy people out there. You have all kinds of problems with that."

With this transportation plan, elementary school kids within a mile of their school will be expected to walk. Middle school students within 1.25 miles would expected to walk, too, as would high school students within who live within a mile and a half of their school.

A short distance that is still difficult for parents to digest.

"I commend them for trying to find other avenues for students to get to school. But should that be the only avenue? I'm not sure about that," Lewis-Manning said.

In addition to the transportation plan, the district plans to cover the budget shortfall by not filling vacant positions at the Central Office, not renewing some third-party vendor contracts and by reallocating dollars sent to individual schools.

The savings from the plans include the following:

  • $5-7 million savings with the transportation plan
  • $6 million savings from Central Office funds
  • $6.7 million savings from individual school building budgets.

The district is not anticipating any layoffs.

WRTV Reporter Rafael Sanchez contributed to this report.