Indianapolis Public Schools’ plan calls for walk zones, use of IndyGo buses

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Indianapolis Public Schools is proposing changes to how some students get to and from school.

Leaders have come up with a plan as the district faces a $15 million shortfall. In total, with this proposal, IPS leaders want to save from $3 million to $4 million in transportation costs.

Under IPS’ transportation proposal, some students could become walkers to school. Other students could have to use IndyGo as their primary way to and from school.

Some high school students will switch from school buses to IndyGo buses. Those students’ ID cards will have a free annual bus pass. They and their families could opt in to IndyGo.

“For the IndyGo bus riders, if they can make that a safe option for students, I think students having more options is a good thing,” said Kindra Hunckler, a parent of an IPS student. “I think it’s the school’s job to provide transportation for the students. K-6 students, some of them may be able to walk a mile, but some may not. I think I would prefer that they provide bus transportation to those students, continue to provide that.”

IPS Superintendent Aleesia Johnson said, “We know we have a public transit system that can serve out students well. So, we believe we don’t need to duplicate certain services if we have an existing system that can serve students well, and also help us ensure that we’re not having to negatively impact and reduce the quality of school services in our school building.”

IPS’ proposal calls for the current walk-zone policy to be executed at all K-12 schools.

So, who could be considered walkers?

  • Kindergarten-6th grade students who live within 1 mile of their school.
  • Grade 7-8 students who live within 1.25 miles of their school.
  • Grade 9-12 students who live within 1.5 miles of their school.

If your child lives within walking distance, they could get transportation because of a medical condition or if they’re prevented from getting to school safely.

Johnson said, “Safety is still our No. 1 priority. In the ways that we have leveraged crossing guards at some of the schools, who we have enforced a policy with this year, we’ll continue to do that. If there are dangerous intersections or railroad crossings or highway intersections and those types of things that would make safe travel not possible, then obviously, we’re going to take those considerations into regard, then make a different decision.”

IPS said they don’t need board approval to execute the walk-zone policy because the policy already exists. The superintendent Johnson said the plan will be presented to the school board on Thursday. The board could vote on the IndyGo part of the proposal on April 29. Between now and then, IPS will keep engaging with families and the community.

Affected families will get a letter about student transportation changes for the 2021-2022 school year.

Johnson said, “Between now and April, when we ask the board to take action on this issue, as well as even after that, we’ll have available information sessions for families, the ability of those who are going to IndyGo, to take some rides and experience it for themselves if they have not already. In the high school space, with IndyGo, what I’ve heard most frequently from students, is ‘Yeah, I’m OK!'”