GPTC buses to transport Gary students to school
By Carole Carlson firstname.lastname@example.org/648-3154 September 11, 2012 11:02PM
Student signups for Gary Public Transportation Corp. bus passes continue Wednesday from 9 to 11 a.m. at the Wirt-Emerson Visual and Performing Arts Academy and from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Lew Wallace STEM Academy.
Updated: October 14, 2012 1:55PM
GARY — School officials announced free city bus service Tuesday for students at four secondary schools through a partnership with the Gary Public Transportation Corp.
A news release from the Gary Community School Corp. said the free service is intended for students who reside within the two-mile “walk zone,” established so the district could save money in transportation costs.
Students interested in obtaining a free student GTPC bus pass must attend a meeting held at their respective schools to sign up for the program. Bus schedules are being provided to students.
“It is important that we pool all resources to maximize our ability to meet the needs of children,” Superintendent Cheryl Pruitt said in a statement. She didn’t make it clear how the district would pay for the service. “We are partnering with parents, companies, civic leadership and all responsible parties who express an interest in improving our schools and the educational experiences of our students.”
Students signups began Tuesday at the West Side Leadership Academy and continue from 9 to 11 a.m. Wednesday at the Wirt-Emerson Visual and Performing Arts Academy and from 1 to 3 p.m. Wednesday at the Lew Wallace STEM Academy.
Students who miss the meetings can still sign up for bus service and obtain a bus schedule in the main office of their school.
The school district has experienced myriad complaints from parents about bus issues during the first month of school. Parents complained they haven’t received a route schedule, the route was changed, or no bus at all is picking up their children.
The district is paying Illinois Central Bus Co. $5 million for student transportation.
Parents have also expressed safety concerns about young elementary-age children who now have to walk to school if they live within a mile of the school.
At Tuesday’s school board meeting, Pruitt said the district will pick up the tab on GPTC rates for students at West Side Leadership Academy, Wirt/Emerson Visual Performing Arts and Lew Wallace STEM Academy.
The GPTC plan will be an alternative to the school buses run by Illinois Central, but it will not cover any of the elementary schools.
“We are working on getting some viable costs” for the GPTC rides, Pruitt said. “We want to see how it works, so it’ll just be another option.”
Correspondent Michael Gonzalez contributed to this report.