Classes begin for Charlottesville City Schools in four weeks and work continues to prepare for a year in which more students will not be eligible to get a ride on a school bus. A driver shortage has led the school system to expand walk zones that are still being finalized.
“We are hoping to let families know this week about their current bus eligibility and whether they have a bus request on files,” reads an email update sent to interested parties on Monday. “This status update will tell families if their child is in a walk zone or eligible for the bus.”
The notice also states that priority will be given to families living further away from schools. The actual bus assignments will be released in August.
Last week, the city administration told City Council that staff is recommending using $500,000 from the city’s share of the American Rescue Plan Act to help pay for safety improvements.
“We’ve added $500,000,” said interim City Manager Michael C. Rogers. “Higher amounts were suggested. In talking with staff we believe that we have other funds in the budget that can actually exceed the amount that has been suggested in the past by some of the communications from people but this is a high priority area and we are offering that up for your consideration.”
In their update, city schools say they are in conversations with the city, parents, and community members about sidewalks and intersections that need to be improved. Last week, Deputy City Manager Sam Sanders said the city government will follow the school system’s lead.
“What we’re doing is working directly with schools and trying our best to make sure that their priorities are what we prioritize and what we do to help them through this process because we’re seeing this as everyone’s issue,” Sanders said.
Sanders said the work to address safety concerns will continue past the first day of school.
“And then to go beyond that and basically reboot our Safe Routes to School program,” Sanders said. “That’s what this is really synergized at this time by allowing all this focus on what we’ve been doing and what we’ve been talking about doing.”
Sanders said there are also conversations with Albemarle about how to collaborate on pupil transportation for special needs students.
The school system is also encouraging people to report problem locations using the MyCville app or by phoning 434-970-3333, option #2.
Two other ways people can become involved are:
- Take a walk along a school route and make your observations known in a Google Doc created by the school system
- Apply to be a regular or substitute crossing guard or walking school bus leader – paid positions
The school system will hold a final “walk and talk” this Friday at Mount Zion First African Baptist Church from noon to 2 p.m. There will also be an online Q&A session on August 10 at 5 p.m. (register)
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