June 17, 2021

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Toledo Public Schools unveil new transportation plans for high school kids

TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) – Toledo Public Schools taking its next steps in making sure high school kids get to school safely and potentially finding a way to solve a major issue in school transportation.

As the 13abc I-Team first told you last week, TPS and TARTA will be parting ways after their contract ends this school year. Now the district is working through how to get thousands of kids to school in August.

More than 7000 Toledo public, parochial and charter high school kids currently use TARTA to get to school. That won’t be the case next school year, as the TPS board heard proposals Friday for a “Plan B.”

“What we need to be concerned with, as a bottom line, is how we service those students and their families,” said Bob Vasquez, TPS board member.

TARTA is stepping away because of regulatory and compliance issues. TPS’ new proposal is to do some of the transportation in house. The rest, mostly the private and charter school kids, will run through a company called Trinity. That would save the district about $1.1 million from the TARTA deal. There are issues, one is finding qualified drivers with a commercial driver’s licenses.

“We have a problem. We have a lack of CDL bus drivers. Northwest Ohio has a problem, education has a problem with bus drivers and at the end of the day we are problem solvers,” said Dr. Romules Durant, TPS superintendent.

For that problem Dr. Durant and his team plan to add CDL certification to career tech programs. TPS could essentially grow its own workforce.

“We also looked into the law and they can drive immediately right outside of passing the test and graduation. Meaning they graduate in May they can be driving in the summer time or drive right there in the fall,” said Dr. Durant.

The proposal is a three-year contract with Trinity but in those three years, could TPS become transportation self-sufficient?

“I like the concept of us growing into doing everything ourselves. That is the end goal for me,” said Chris Varwig, TPS board member.

The full school board will need to vote on this plan before any deals are signed. Nothing will change for student transportation for this school year.

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