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LPS plan would add bus routes to high school focus programs
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LPS plan would add bus routes to high school focus programs

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Buses will take students from their home high schools to the Lincoln Public Schools science and arts and humanities focus programs next year under the new transportation plan proposed Tuesday.

LPS officials would add two routes along the southern and northern corridors of the district that would stop at all high schools in the mornings and afternoons to pick up and return students. It would cost $36,640.

The system will be similar to the plan put in place this year for students attending the newly-opened career academy, which buses students for both the morning and afternoon sessions to and from the new building at the Southeast Community College campus near 84th and O streets.

School board members have talked for some time about adding bus routes for the focus programs in an effort to increase access -- and enrollment -- since students now must find their own transportation. The science program is located at the Lincoln Children’s Zoo. The Arts and Humanities focus program is located at the former Coca-Cola Bottling Co. near 25th and Randolph streets.

If the board approves the new plan, students would have the option of taking a bus but could still drive if they preferred. Career Academy students are required to take the bus because of parking issues.

The district is contracting for bus service to the career academy, which is more expensive than using LPS buses and likely will mean the district will be about $200,000 over budget, board member Lanny Boswell said Tuesday. Much of that can be made up through savings in other parts of the budget, said Liz Standish, associate superintendent of business affairs.

Next year, she said, they will consider using LPS buses instead. The district has contracted some busing services for a number of years because of a shortage of in-house drivers.

Other proposed changes to the $9.6 million transportation budget include adding an additional route to Adams Elementary. Buses take about 90 students from an area bounded by West Old Cheney Road, U.S. Highway 77, Southwest 84th Street and Yankee Hill Road, which includes a number of acreages.

The route, which will cost an extra $18,440, is necessary to reduce time students spend on the bus, McCoy said.

The transportation plan also would add one route to bring special education students to Wysong Elementary, 7901 Blanchard Blvd., which will open this fall. The route will add another $33,070 to the budget.

The district also will spend $108,186 to take Humann Elementary students to the former Bison Sports Complex next year while Humann is being renovated. LPS bought the building at 710 Hill St. and will use it for food storage in addition to a temporary school for Humann students. Busing to Humann will come from the building fund, rather than the general fund.

McCoy told the board that last year, 135 bus drivers drove 111 routes for a total of 1.1 million miles.

They drove another 109,031 miles to take students to activities such as sports competitions. They've taken students to about 3,700 activities so far this year, he said.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7226 or mreist@journalstar.com.

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Education reporter

Margaret Reist is a Lincoln native, the mom of three high school graduates now navigating college and an education junkie who covers students, teachers and policymakers inside and outside the K-12 classroom.

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