Stress mounts for JCPS parents looking for transportation as alternative faces financial issues | Education

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — The stress to find a way to school next year may be growing for some Jefferson County Public Schools’ parents.

That feeling is mounting as a backup option for transportation is also struggling.

Last week, the Jefferson County Board of Education voted to cut transportation to thousands of students who attend the district’s magnet and traditional schools, with the exception of Central and Western high schools, which both have a 75% threshold of students on free or reduced lunch. 

Students riding Transit Authority of River City buses has been suggested as an alternative throughout the conversations on what JCPS students who don’t have a bus next year can do.

“It’s not going to be the solution for the JCPS problem that has already been on the table,” JCPS parent Cassia Herron said.

Swapping a yellow school bus for a TARC bus may not be an easy alternative, as some JCPS families had hoped.

“We are missing the mark on opportunity to find a good solution,” Herron said. 

To make up for the cut in transportation, the district said it would offer any middle and high school student a TARC pass for free. But that pass may not get students as far as they hoped.

“That’s a big concern for us moving forward,” Superintendent Marty Pollio said. 

This week, TARC announced that because of a “looming fiscal cliff,” it needs to scale back on its routes. It was a announcement that came as a bit of a surprise to JCPS. 

“We find school districts across America who have had to cut transportation with (a) robust public transportation system that helps, so this cut back will have a negative impact on that,” said Pollio.

JCPS also hoped TARC would be able to add stops closer to schools that did not already have one nearby. According to Pollio, that’s eight middle and high schools. But now, he’s not sure if that problem can be fixed.

“I don’t want to speak for them, but that is the way it seems to me,” he said.

TARC’s interim director said it was never the best fallback plan for JCPS.

“We can’t be a plan A, we’re a low B,” said Ozzy Gibson. “I also was not shy in telling them we’re going to have issues again next spring.”

Now, leaving two separate transportation agencies struggling to make things better.

Pollio added he is still working to schedule a team to meet with city leaders, but will meet before the end of the week. That meeting was discussed during a press conference on Monday, where Louisville Mayor Craig Greenberg suggested any TARC drivers laid off because of route reductions as a result of the agency’s budget, be able to seamlessly transfer over to JCPS to drive buses. 

However, the TARC union isn’t on board. Union leaders said their drivers were blindsided by the potential cuts.

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