Education isn’t something that can be ordered in the mail. Our schools provide our students with opportunities, with a challenging and stimulating environment, and with a high- quality education. Transportation is a critical piece to providing that education to students every single day.
In my opinion, one of the best opportunities available to high school students in Albemarle County Public Schools are the three high school academies: The Math, Engineering, and Science Academy (MESA) at Albemarle High, the Health and Medical Sciences Academy (HMSA) at Monticello High, and the Earth Sciences Academy (ESA) at Western Albemarle High. These three academies offer an incredibly comprehensive and focused area of study for high school students and are all forward- thinking programs that incorporate 21st century learning models.
What if I were to tell you that there are students every year who are extremely qualified but unable to enroll in these academies simply because they can’t find transportation? When not put in context, some may say “Tough luck”. However, Albemarle County Public Schools already provides transportation to Murray High School/Community Public Charter School and the Charlottesville Albemarle Technical Education Center (CATEC) from student’s base high schools. Not so for the three academies. For hard- working parents who need to be at work early, who rely on school buses to take their child to and from school, it’s impossible to give their child the ability to enroll in one of the three amazing academy programs, no matter how qualified their child may be.
On the Albemarle County School Board, I will advocate for the school system to provide transportation for students to the academy they are enrolled in from their base high school. This will allow students in rural areas of the county or students who come from poorer and hardworking families access to the high school academies that they have not previously had.
In order to fund this initiative off of the existing transportation budget, I will also advocate for more sensible and consolidated transportation routes. Establishing dedicated pickup and drop off zones at the beginnings of neighborhoods for middle and high school students, and establishing centralized pickup and drop off locations for elementary school students (Rather than students being dropped at their individual driveway) will drastically lower school bus idle times and lower route times for the majority of students, leading to increased efficiency and lower expenditures.
Additionally, I will advocate for closer work with school PTOs to improve carpooling, something that has the potential to drastically reduce traffic congestion in and around school zones during the early morning and afternoon.
Friends, transportation is how we provide access to our high- quality public school system for over 12,000 students every day. That access should be efficient and all- encompassing. On the Albemarle County School Board I will ensure that every possible avenue to improving our existing transportation system is pursued.