Goshen schools may expand walk zones, decrease field trips, bus stops

Goshen Community Schools is considering a number of changes to the district's walk zones, school bell times and more in order to make up for a shortfall to the schools' transportation fund.

Posted on May 10, 2013 at 1:00 a.m. | Updated on May 10, 2013 at 4:46 p.m.

GOSHEN — A number of changes could be coming to Goshen Community Schools next school year.

The Goshen School Board will discuss several changes to its transportation plans at its meeting Monday evening, May 13.

According to information included in Monday’s school board packet on Goshen Community Schools’ website, the possible changes include:

Ÿ Eliminating wait times at bus stops.

Ÿ Expanding walk zones for several schools.

Ÿ Utilizing “hubs” where groups of students meet to be picked up by bus, eliminating the number of bus stops

Ÿ No longer funding field trip transportation. Each school or organization would need to find its own funding for transportation on field trips and after-school events. Band and athletic trips will be paid in full by band and athletics.

Ÿ “Choice” routes will be eliminated, which means that the school corporation will no longer provide transportation for students attending an elementary that is not their neighborhood school.

Ÿ Adding more crossing guards to areas with expanded walk zones.

Ÿ New daily bell schedules, already approved by the board to add instructional time, would also “permit bus routes to run more efficiently.” At the elementary schools, the day would run from 7:50 a.m. to 2:50 p.m. Goshen Middle School would run from 8:35 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. and Goshen High School would run from 8:25 a.m. to 3:35 p.m.

Robert Evans, assistant superintendent of transportation and education services, said that the gap between schools’ start times would allow the school system to run fewer buses with more routes and have those buses arrive at schools on time.

The Goshen Community Schools’ transportation study committee, formed to look at ways to meet a shortfall to the school corporation’s transportation fund due to property tax caps, assembled the list of recommendations. The study group includes school personnel, community members and a school board member, Evans said at the most recent Goshen School Board meeting.

The recommendations are listed as a discussion item on Monday’s agenda, which means that the board will look at the items, but won’t vote on them. Evans said that changes wouldn’t necessarily need board approval to begin, but that he would likely ask for it since it would directly impact the public.

Goshen, Concord and Elkhart school system leaders have said they are being financially crunched by shortfalls in their transportation, bus replacement and capital project funds, due to caps to local property taxes.

Evans said that the shortfall in Goshen’s transportation fund will likely be about $1 million, but that the savings from all the recommended changes would probably only save $350,000 to $400,000.

He also said that the committee is recommending walk zones for Model, Parkside, Prairie View and West Goshen elementaries, Goshen Middle School and Goshen High School. Some of those schools would need more sidewalks installed to make the walk zones safe and practical, though, which means the school system would need to work with the city of Goshen to complete that, Evans said.

Elkhart Community Schools announced its changes to busing, school start and end times and elementary school district boundaries earlier this week. Elkhart’s changes include adding 70 minutes to the elementary school day, decreasing the middle and high school day by 10 minutes and re-configuring elementary school district boundaries, among other changes.

Goshen’s Monday school board meeting is at 6 p.m. at the Goshen administration buildings, 613 E. Purl St.

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