Roanoke City School Board approves changes to help address transportation issues

Between 800 and 1,300 students are late every day, according to the school division

ROANOKE, Va. – The Roanoke City School Board voted to approve a number of changes in the upcoming school year in hopes of improving some of the transportation issues they’ve seen over the years.

Just last week, 10 News told you about the different options the board was considering when it comes to changes. In general, there were three option buckets the board was debating.

The first one includes schedule changes, geographic realignment, walking/family responsibility zones, changes to after-school transportation out of zone and alternative service routes for STEAM, PLATO and Noel C. Taylor Learning Academy.

The second option includes all those items except for the schedule changes. If board members decide on this option, the current tier times will remain the same.

The third option excludes schedule changes and geographic realignment.

Before making a vote, school board members had a chance to talk about their concerns regarding some of the options.

“My intention today is not to snap my finger and voila magic and 1,000 kids are not taught anymore,” Michael Cherry said to start off the conversation.

The most contentious of the changes had to do with the new bell schedule. Just last year, the school division made similar changes in hopes of addressing transportation. Now the school times are changing again.

“I just have concerns about the schedule and the burdens it’s putting on our families,” Diane Casola said.

However several board members sought the changes to the times as the best way to improve numbers when it comes to students being late. In addition, the school division has a new transportation provider, Zum, starting next year.

“They’re the first stop, literally, on the education journey for our students. We have to give them a chance to get our kids to school on time so they can realize all the benefits of their education,” Joyce Watkins said.

School Board member Franny Apel was on the fence throughout the discussion.

“I completely understand, logically 30 minutes is not enough time. I feel like voting against the schedule time is going to be voting for late buses. That’s what it feels like to me. We would be guaranteeing late buses and late kids,” Apel said.

Apel and Casola were the only two members to vote against the proposal.

The board emphasized that this will not be a perfect solution, but the goal is to have a plan that gets students safely to and from school on time.

Click here for more information regarding the transportation improvements.

About the Author

Connor Dietrich joined the 10 News team in June 2022. Originally from Castle Rock, Colorado, he's ready to step away from the Rockies and step into the Blue Ridge scenery.

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