The district will be able to increase bus service by outsourcing transportation for charter and private school students to Cincinnati-based First Student.
The Dayton Board of Education last month approved a $17.7 million contract with First Student to handle busing charter and private school students.
Ohio law requires public school districts to provide transportation to private and charter school students in their boundaries. Ohio Department of Education data showed that just before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, DPS had more than 12,500 students at its own 26 schools, 3,000 students attending 36 private schools and another 6,000-plus at 27 physical charter schools.
Dave Taylor, superintendent of the Dayton Early College Academy charter school network, said if First Student can deliver, then it will be a win for his nearly 1,300 students.
“We want to make sure that every kid has a filled route every day,” he said, noting that hasn’t been the case in previous years as they dealt with unreliable services caused by driver call-offs and had to provide Greater Dayton Regional Transit Authority passes to high school students.
“Having direct routes for students is safer, it’s faster and it’s cheaper for us; we’re not required to buy bus passes for them,” he said.
If First Student can staff the contract, “I don’t see how it’s not an improvement over where we’ve been the last several years,” he said.
A First Student official did not return messages seeking comment.
Transportation problems have been cited as a factor in attendance problems at DPS schools. And the district has tried several things to address this. But a bus driver shortage seen by many area districts in recent years was exacerbated by the pandemic.
Lolli said this has a direct impact on students, as they miss education when they show up late or their parents have them simply stay home because they can’t get them to school.
“The opportunity for our attendance to improve will be there,” she said. “(Students) will be able to focus on school and get started right away at school and not be waiting on other kids that are on a delayed bus or buses.”