A decline in funding is causing Fort Wayne Community Schools to enforce No Transportation Zones (NTZ) beginning in the 2015-16 school year. Students living within established proximities to schools as well as those attending a school other than their geographically assigned school will not be transported by FWCS bus. Students attending magnet schools and high school Programs of Study will continue to be transported by bus according to district guidelines.
This is not a change in FWCS policy. FWCS has been generous in making exceptions over time to accommodate families. The FWCS Board of School Trustees policy states that the following students are eligible for transportation:
Elementary students residing beyond a 1-mile radius from the school they attend
Middle school students residing beyond a 1.5-mile radius from the school they attend
High school students residing beyond a 2-mile radius from the school they attend
Assignment Applications are no longer being accepted for the 2017-18 school year. The lottery process for the 2017-18 school year opens in November. Plan to attend the FWCS Showcase Saturday, Nov. 11, from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. at Northrop High School.
I went through the lottery process, and my child was accepted into the school he/she currently attends. Do I have to reapply each year?
For 2015-16 every student in the district will need to complete an Intra-District Assignment Application by February 6, 2015. After being accepted for 2015-16 school year he/she is locked into that feeder pattern all the way through graduation, unless you remove him/her from the school at any point.
I would like my child to return to our attendance area school. What do I need to do?
For the 2014-15 school year, students will need to remain at the school or feeder pattern that they were placed in through the lottery for the remainder of the school year. Starting with the 2015-16 school year, the student can enroll in his/her attendance area school at any time without going through the lottery process. For 2015-16 school year only, all students will need to complete an Intra-District Assignment Application by February 6, 2015.
If a student moves, can he/she still stay in the school he/she got in to through the lottery process or will he/she be reassigned to the neighborhood school?
Your child can stay in his/her school even after the move, but transportation will not be provided. If you want to attend your neighborhood school, you may enroll for the 2015-16 school year without going through the lottery process. For 2015-16 school year only, all students will need to complete an Intra-District Assignment Application by February 6, 2015.
If a student is attending a school that is not in his/her attendance area because of an official transfer but withdraws to attend a different school, can the parent bring the child back to the school they withdrew from, if they change their minds again?
No, once a child is withdrawn and enrolled at another school, it breaks the assignment gained through the lottery process. The student would have to go to his/her attendance area school or re-apply for the desired school through the lottery application during the next lottery process.
If a child goes from one parent's household to the other parent's household through a non-custodial agreement and the child is assigned to a school through the lottery process, can the child attend the new parent's household attendance area school?
These situations need to be handled through Student and Family Support Services and will be determined on a case-by-case basis.
Frequently Asked Questions
Have a Question? Submit it through Let's Talk or call the NTZ Hotline at 467-1907
How will I know if I live in a No Transportation Zone (NTZ)?
FWCS will send letters to families by the end of January informing them of future service based on current residence.
When I drive to my child's elementary school, it is more than 1 mile. How was the NTZ radius determined?
The radius (1-mile for elementary, 1.5 miles for middle school, 2-miles for high school) was determined by drawing a circle around the school with the school at the center. Driving distance may be different than the circular radius around the building. In addition, factors such as neighborhood boundaries and hazards, such as a highway, were considered in creating the No Transportation Zone.
What are my options if I live in a NTZ and currently receive bus transportation?
You will need to provide transportation for your child.
My child attends a magnet school/high school Program of Study. Do I need to take any action?
Transportation will continue for magnet schools for students living outside the established No Transportation Zone. For the Programs of Study at the high schools, only students who were accepted into the Programs of Study through the lottery process and are outside the No Transportation Zone for the school they will attend will be provided bus transportation. Only 25 students living outside the school's boundary per year will be admitted to each Program through the lottery. Students enrolled in Program of Study classes who live in the attendance area for the school in which the program is located will be provided bus transportation if they live outside the NTZ. Students who were accepted through the lottery (either because of feeder pattern or choosing the general program in the lottery) to attend the general program at a high school but later choose to take classes in a Program of Study will not be eligible for transportation.
My child is currently transported to and from school from our day care. Will this continue?
No, beginning in the 2015-16 school year, FWCS transportation eligibility will be based on each student's home address only, unless we are transporting to and from an FWCS Y care. This means that day care locations will not be included in transportation routes.
My child is picked up at different homes on different days of the week. Will this continue?
No, transportation will be provided only to one home address, if the student is eligible for transportation.
Why are these reductions necessary?
Property tax caps (also known as the Circuit Breaker) were passed by Indiana legislators in 2008. When they were being considered, FWCS and other districts across the state informed elected officials that they would result in reduced services. This has now come to fruition. Since 2009, the Circuit Breaker has prohibited FWCS from collecting more than $9 million for Transportation. This is expected to double by 2017. Public schools are limited in the funds that can be raised to pay for transportation and all other expenses. On top of those limits, the Circuit Breaker reduced funds available even further. FWCS now must reduce the Transportation budget by $2.5 million annually, about 15 percent of the Transportation budget. Less funding = fewer services.
Can you use a different fund to pay for transportation? Why not cut salaries or other expenses?
Because of the way funding is structured, there are different revenue sources for different expenses. Some expenses, such as salaries and classroom expenses, are paid for by the General Fund, which is supported by the State. Transportation is one of several funds that is supported by property taxes. In 2009, tax caps (also called the Circuit Breaker) were put into effect, limiting the amount of revenue governing bodies can collect. Since that time, FWCS has been prohibited from collecting $30 million in various funds. In Transportation alone, the loss has been $9 million. Government agencies are generally not allowed to take from one funding area to support another (there are some exceptions). However, even if we did have more flexibility, there is not enough funding in any of the areas to cover the costs of another area. For instance, even if we cut salaries, it would not be enough to pay for the reductions needed in Transportation. In addition, paying lower wages would reduce our ability to be competitive with other school districts in attracting the highest quality educators and support staff.
Why has Transportation become such a big expense? I remember walking to school when I was a child.
Many things have changed since the early 80s. At one time, we had many more schools located in the central area of the city. As those buildings aged, newer buildings were built outside the central city and the inner-city schools were closed. That required more transportation because the schools were farther away from the students. At the same time, FWCS came to a desegregation settlement that required FWCS to ensure schools were racially balanced. This was achieved by opening magnet programs in the central city to draw a diverse mix of students to the inner city. With fewer neighborhood schools in the central city, it required busing students to schools further away. While we have had a policy in place since the 1970s that said we would not transport students within a certain radius of their school (1-mile elementary, 1.5-mile middle, 2-mile high), we ended up with routes that transported students within those boundaries. Also, in an effort to accommodate families who wanted to take advantage of our school choice program, we also transported students who transferred to other schools even though we always said transportation would not be guaranteed. When funding levels were higher, we could afford this kind of generous system. With the tax caps, the funding is no longer available and we must revert to following our policies.
Does this mean we will have more two-hour delays or school closures because of inclement weather?
No. We will continue to follow our same procedures for determining a two-hour delay or closure. When we make weather decisions, we consider the various ways in which students get to school. That process will continue
Can I pay for bus service?
No. Indiana does not allow school districts to charge for transportation, even if the parents are willing to do so.
Will after-school extra-curricular busing still be available?
Yes. We believe it is important for students to be involved in extra-curricular activities and will continue the late-bus service.
How will this affect ELL students?
The numbers of schools that now offer ELL services has expanded every year and continues to expand. Some ELL students will be assigned to new schools.
Will Special Education students lose transportation?
Special Education routes are set up based on student needs and IEPs. Those will continue to be factors in providing transportation for Special Education students. Exceptions to any/all guidelines will be made as necessary for Special Education students as determined in the case conference and detailed in the student's IEPs.
Will this affect pre-K transportation at the midday?
At this point, we are still studying transportation for pre-K students for the 2015-16 school year.
Will NTZ apply to summer school?
Are you working with other community organizations, such as the city or police department, as you make these decisions?
Yes, we have already had initial conversations with the Mayor and will be meeting further with specific city departments on issues, such as sidewalks, crossing guards and more.
I live in an area where there are no sidewalks along a busy stretch of roadway. Are you saying my child will have to walk through snow or walk in the street to get to school?
We understand there are many areas that do not have sidewalks. We are working with the city to identify those areas for possible future sidewalk expansion. Obviously, not all sidewalks will be installed by the time the school year starts. If you know of an area in need of sidewalks, you may want to contact your City Council representative.
Could Citilink provide transportation for students?
Citilink is likely not an option for most students given the route schedules and stops are not based on school use.
Can I just find the nearest bus stop that goes to my child's school and have them board the bus there? It may be closer to my home than driving my child to school.
No. Bus routes for next year will be determined by the number of students riding in an area. Students not assigned to the bus will not be able to ride for capacity reasons.
Will more parking permits be made available to high school students to drive to school?
That is an issue the high schools will explore.
Will other doors be open at the beginning of the school day to allow easier access for walkers?
That is an issue we will explore.
I don't know how I will manage to get my child safely to school with these changes. What is FWCS doing to help me?
FWCS partners with the YMCA to provide day care services in many of its schools, and it is working with the YMCA to add locations in more schools. All schools are serviced by a Y care in a school. The program is currently offered at nine schools: Arlington, Forest Park, Franke Park, Glenwood Park, Haley, Indian Village, Lincoln, Maplewood and Weisser Park. Next year, the YMCA plans to expand to Brentwood, Croninger, Harrison Hill, Irwin, Shambaugh, St. Joseph Central, Towles and Washington Center. Additional sites may be considered as needed. Students enrolled in a Y care in a school other than the school they attend will be provided with transportation to and from their home school. FWCS is also working with PTAs, which are helping to connect parents interested in car/walking pools, and the city on issues such as sidewalks, crossing guards and walking/biking safety.
School Schedule FAQ
What are the new hours being proposed?
The new schedule will be:
Middle School - 7:20 a.m.-2:15 p.m.
Elementary School - 8:20 a.m.-2:55 p.m.
High School - 9:05 a.m.-4:10 p.m.
Why do the hours need to change?
As part of the savings in Transportation, we needed to find a way to make bus routing more efficient. Going to a three-tier schedule allows more efficient routing.
Couldn't you put the schools in a different order? Why do high schools have to start so late?
The order was first established based on bus routing efficiency. That meant the elementary school routes, which have the most riders, needed to be in the middle. Also, we did not want our youngest students waiting at bus stops too early in the morning or getting home too late in the evening. The choice was between middle and high school going first. Research shows high school students perform better academically, if they start later in the day. In addition, when we considered extra-curricular activities at both the middle and high school level, we found that middle schools typically do not have lighted facilities as high schools do, which means middle school activities cannot go too late in the day. For these reasons, it was decided high school students would start last.
Did you consider the affect this would have on high school students in extra-curricular activities or those with after-school jobs?
Yes, we did consider those factors. High schools will work with coaches and advisors to develop new schedules for extra-curricular activities. Employers will need to adjust to the new student schedule as well when scheduling hours for student employees.
I rely on my high school student to take care of my elementary school student after school. Now, my older student will get home after my younger student. Who will watch my child?
We understand this schedule change will cause many families to have to adjust their own schedules. Many of our schools are now sites for before- and after-school care from the YMCA. We will work with the YMCA to determine if additional sites are needed for the 2015-16 school year.