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Jefferson County Board of Education members move up vote on transportation plan

Kids walk in front of a stopped school bus.
J. Tyler Franklin
Kids walk in front of a stopped school bus.

Three members of the Jefferson County Board of Education have called a special meeting for Wednesday to vote on a transportation plan for next year, which may include cuts to magnet transportation.

With little more than 24 hours notice, the Jefferson County Board of Education announced a special meeting to vote on a controversial transportation plan for next year.

That vote was originally scheduled for April 16, but the transportation plan is now on the agenda for a special meeting at 6 p.m. Wednesday.

“We need a decision soon, rather than next week,” District 5 board member Linda Duncan said. “Our transportation people need to know how to move forward.”

No details of the proposal were immediately available on the board’s website, but the latest recommendation from Jefferson County Public Schools Superintendent Marty Pollio was to cut transportation for nearly all magnet and traditional school students.

Duncan said that transportation staff met individually with each board member Tuesday and presented several options. One option, according to Duncan, is to make the cuts to magnet and traditional schools, consolidate to fewer start times, and rework routes so that they are more regional. A second option would also consolidate to fewer start times and rework the routes, but maintain transportation for magnet and traditional students, Duncan said. However, she said JCPS staff told her that option would result in students losing 6 million instructional minutes to delays over the course of the school year. Students have already lost more than 7 million instructional minutes this year, under the current plan, according to JCPS staff.

Duncan said staff also presented the option of maintaining the current plan, and another option that cut magnet transportation except to schools that had high levels of poverty.

Asked if Duncan thought the public had enough notice to weigh on the plans, Duncan argued that it’s not an issue for the public to determine.

“I don't know that it's an issue that you take to the public and say ‘Which one of these three things do you like the best? And we'll go with that.’ … I think this is one where we have to use our best judgment based on what transportation people are telling us.”

The meeting will be held at the VanHoose Education Center, which has a maximum capacity of 142 people. That’s left dozens of people waiting in the parking lot during recent meetings.

Duncan along with board members Chris Kolb of District 2 and Joe Marshall of District 4 called the meeting.

Duncan said not all board members were supportive of moving up the vote.

Under board policy, a special meeting can be called by either the board chair or any three members of the board.

This story has been updated with additional information.

Jess Clark is LPMs Education and Learning Reporter. Email Jess at jclark@lpm.org.

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