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CPS Student Growth Pushes Neighborhood Boundary And Transportation Conversation

CPS' board discusses transportation, budget and neighborhood boundaries the night before the 2019 election.
Ambriehl Crutchfield
CPS' board discusses transportation, budget and neighborhood boundaries the night before the 2019 election.

An increase in Cincinnati Public School enrollment is pushing the district to reconsider its approach on equity and transportation.

Since August, CPS has been getting complaints about its bus system. In the sixth week of the school year, it received 775 phone calls.

CPS works with First Student, Queen City and other vendors to transport students. The district is implementing an automated bus tracking system which will catch trends.

"We don't have to spend any time looking at that data, or relying on parents reporting it, or relying on vendors reporting. We now have all of that on automated reports," Chief Strategy Officer Sara Trimble Oliver says. "So that allows us more time on what to do about it."

The district is also rolling out other new measures to make its system efficient, including a management system that monitors vendors calls and eventually making the My Stop bus phone app available for parents at all CPS schools.

The school board is also considering redrawing neighborhood boundaries. The cost of making sure all CPS students have access to different education styles was a conversation driver.

School board member Mike Moroski says they can't rely on the city's racially segregated neighborhood lines if they want to create equity.

Clifton Neighborhood School is one part of the district's recent focus on diversifying student population.

At Monday night's meeting, board member Eve Bolton said East and West Side schools still face disparities. Board member Pamela Bowers says shifting some students to Dater High School could help. "With us growing Walnut Hills school and adding a Spencer School, many students I'm sure that are at Walnut Hills are from the West Side," she says. "Why not feed into Dater?" Bowers says Dater offers similar programs to Walnut Hills High School and Spencer Center for Gifted and Exceptional Students.

The board says providing equity to all students despite class, race and ability level isn't a quick problem to solve. Superintendent Laura Mitchell says her administration will give recommendations to the board in a few weeks on urgent short-term problems that can be addressed.

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Ambriehl Crutchfield
Ambriehl is a general assignment reporter with interest in education and communities. She works to amplify underrepresented voices and advance daily news stories. She comes to WVXU with previous reporting experience at NPR member stations WBEZ in Chicago and WKYU in Bowling Green, Ky.