School board to workshop bus routes 

An ACPS bus makes its way down Tower Road between Kanapaha Middle School and Kimball Wiles Elementary.
An ACPS bus makes its way down Tower Road between Kanapaha Middle School and Kimball Wiles Elementary.
Photo by Seth Johnson

The School Board of Alachua County will host a workshop at 9 a.m. on Wednesday covering transportation changes coming to the Alachua County Public Schools (ACPS) district. The changes include the elimination of courtesy stops, reduction of magnet stops and re-evaluation of school start times. 

For years, ACPS has struggled with bus driver shortages, attempting to fix the problem through job fairs. But the district is facing staff shortages in more than one area, and bus-riding students across the district have been up to an hour late for school since this fall semester started. 

The revised transportation plan is intended to cut down on late and non-arriving buses, increasing on-time arrivals and departures, with the additional benefit of lower costs. 

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Starting Jan. 8, “courtesy” bus routes will no longer be available for anyone but students attending the highest-needs elementary schools. 

Courtesy buses are the buses provided to students who live within the 2-mile walk-out zone of their school and are not gifted or disabled students. 

About 1,200 students receive courtesy busing currently, using 16 buses and costing the district about $1.8 million annually, which the state does not reimburse. 

Florida law provides a definition of “hazardous walking conditions,” including routes where students must walk too close to or on the road, and routes where students walk perpendicular to or across roads with high traffic, high speed limits and uncontrolled crossing sites. 

Students cross Tower Road to attend Kimball Wiles Elementary School.
Photo by Seth Johnson Students cross Tower Road to attend Kimball Wiles Elementary School.

Parents who have students below grade six with a walk to school that fits the definition of “hazardous walking conditions” can request transportation, even if they are within the 2-mile walk-out zone, and even after courtesy busing is eliminated. 

The second change ACPS is making is a reevaluation of transportation to magnet and other choice programs. 

More than 1,600 students attend these programs at schools outside their zones, and the current system has 26 buses transporting them, costing the district about $1.8 million annually. Buses to get students to and from the programs have centralized “hub” stops, which ACPS plans to revamp for efficiency.  

The district estimates the changes will save between $750,000 and $1.4 million each year, not including the cost of drivers. 

The revamped plans will not eliminate any bus driver positions, but officials hope instead to make the routes efficient enough that the current drivers will be able to serve the whole district effectively. With fewer routes to cover, the bus driver shortage should be reduced enough that current employees can fill routes which do not currently have a permanent driver. 

ACPS is also looking into other ways to make its transportation system more efficient, including driver recruitment and retention, and the adjustment of school start times. 

A new state law requires that by the start of the 2026-27 school year, middle schools cannot start earlier than 8 a.m., and high schools must start at 8:30 a.m. or later. ACPS plans to establish a school start time review committee in October to look into a three-tiered system of start times. 

Transportation Director Dontarrius Rowls and Chief of Operations Maria Eunice will present all these changes at the school board workshop as an informational item. The school board does not vote on bus route changes. 

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Joan H Carter

Elementary schools should be required in new housing developments. That would reduce the bus driver shortage. Smaller schools might be better for students, too.


Yes, and pre-k