New grant program aids to improve Arizona’s school transportation

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Arizona has a school-transportation problem. So says Matthew Ladner of the Arizona Center for Student Opportunity. Ladner joined us earlier today to talk about the state’s new 20-million dollar grant program to help modernize how Arizona students get to school.

“The entire country has a school transportation problem right now, what has happened around the country is yellow bus-ridership has been in decline and it was in decline nationally before Covid-19,” Ladner said.

Ladner says it has become harder to hire and keep bus drivers throughout America.

“Just a couple months ago the governor of Massachusetts actually called out the National Guard to start driving school buses,” Ladner said.

Ladner says it is a bigger problem on average for Arizona as more than half of K-8 students are not attending their zone district school, as the yellow bus program is designed to transport kids inside the attendance boundaries of schools.

The state’s competitive grant program will allow schools and districts and others to come up with innovative ideas to transport kids to schools.

“We’re likely in a position where we’re going to have to flood the zone with partial solutions because there’s no magic silver bullet here that’s going to fix everyone’s problem,” Ladner said.

The legislature also passed “in lieu” grants to parents, which are direct payments to families for the purpose of transporting their kids to school.

Matthew Ladner, (AZ Center for Student Opportunity)

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