Press Releases | November 16, 2021

The Mind Trust releases policy and community reports on school transportation in Indiana

Released in partnership with EdChoice and the Institute for Quality Education, the reports outline existing challenges and opportunities for changes in policy and systems

INDIANAPOLIS – (November 16, 2021) – The Mind Trust, an Indianapolis based education nonprofit, today released a policy paper and a community report that explore the challenges Hoosier educators and families face in accessing and managing safe, efficient school transportation. The reports recommend updates to Indiana policy that would allow schools of all types the flexibility and partnerships to make critical decisions on student transportation service, including types of vehicles used, increased efficiency on routing, management, operations, and solutions for Indiana’s chronic driver shortage. These innovations are critical to protecting student access to safe, reliable transportation to the school of their choice.

“Indiana is home to one of the strongest school choice landscapes in the country, empowering many families with the ability to choose the school that works best for them. Access to efficient, safe school transportation often impacts whether or not a student can attend a high-quality school,” said Brandon Brown, CEO of The Mind Trust. “Preserving this environment of choice for families will require Indiana to update state policy to allow for more flexible, collaborative school transportation solutions.”

Both reports share analysis on safety, vehicles, drivers, management, routing, scheduling, and technology, along with recommendations for policy and systemic shifts that can benefit educators and families. With more than 650,000 Hoosier students riding yellow buses to school each day, modernizing state policy can have a wide impact on children from all types of schools and regions in the state.

The community report, Driving Change: How School Transportation Innovation Gives Families the Power to Choose, provides an approachable breakdown of the issue for families and the broader community, exploring the reasons why transportation has become an increasingly difficult service to manage for schools. Driver shortages, longer travel times, higher costs, and other operational issues all impact the level or availability of transportation service a family is able to receive.

Additionally, the growth of school choice in Indiana has led to more available education options for families. However, some choice schools face significant challenges managing their own transportation or finding a management company that is affordable and available to contract with them. Hoosier families enthusiastically embrace a school choice environment, but might not be able to attend the school that works best for their student if access to transportation is limited or unavailable.

“As more families across our state—and our nation—are empowered to access different schooling options, we need to make sure those options are actually accessible. Transportation is a critical component of the choice landscape, and we look forward to a robust conversation with policymakers in Indiana as we continue to break down educational barriers for all families,” said Robert Enlow, President and CEO of EdChoice.

The policy report, Protecting School Choice: How Flexibility in Transportation Can Improve Access and Efficiencyprovides an expenditure analysis, in-depth overview of the current challenges, and detailed policy and operational recommendations to improve school transportation in Indiana. The policy shifts recommended would support the ability of schools to use smaller vehicles and make collaboration between schools and districts easier. Indiana lawmakers have the opportunity to address these issues in the upcoming 2022 legislative session.

“Safe, reliable, cost effective transportation is an essential component to ensuring that every Hoosier student has access to a quality education in the learning environment that best meets there needs.  This report contains several ideas which could be implemented by schools, districts, or the legislature that would modernize how Indiana addresses school transportation.  Doing so will result in a more effective and efficient transportation solution, which will allow Indiana’s students and families to safely attend the school of their choice.  We are hopeful that significant changes will be made during the upcoming legislative session and look forward to engaging in the discussion,” said Betsy Wiley, President and CEO of Institute for Quality Education.

The Mind Trust will host a virtual Community Conversation on Thursday, December 2 at 6:00 p.m. with local school leaders and parents to discuss the community report and hear their experiences managing and using school transportation. To register and learn more about this event, visit themindtrust.org/events.

About The Mind Trust

The Mind Trust is an Indianapolis-based education nonprofit that works to build a system of schools that gives every student in Indianapolis, no exceptions, access to a high-quality education. The Mind Trust does this by building a supportive environment for schools through policy and community engagement, empowering talented, diverse educators to launch new schools, and providing existing schools with the support they need to hire world-class talent and achieve excellence. Since 2006, The Mind Trust has supported the launch of 41 schools, 14 education nonprofit organizations, and has helped place more than 1,700 teachers and school leaders in Indianapolis classrooms.