As the school year gets underway big changes are here for kids riding the bus in Omaha. In their largest initiative yet, the Omaha Public School District is ready for the New Student Assignment Plan for 2017-2018.
OPS says they've listened to the parents, students, and teachers across the metro.
The new plan allows elementary students who live at least 1 mile from school to be eligible for transportation; previously it was 1 1/2 miles.
They've also changed the zoning, so kids can only get a ride to their neighborhood school or one in their partner zone. Eligibility is simpler; it relies on geographical locations, and not financial situations. That will help them reduce the number of buses by 103 compared to last year and save the district more than $7 million.
"One of the things that we heard in our community is that we were seeing buses with low ridership going across the city, and our partner plan makes it more efficient where we'll see increased ridership on our buses,” said Anne McFarland, OPS Community School & Family Engagement.
OPS says kids impacted by the zoning change has reduced from 3,800 to less than 1,600, but some students will have to ride a bus for longer and be at their stop by 6am.
"We have about 200 students who will see a ride time of over an hour but most of our students will see ride times that are less," McFarland explained.
The district also had the bus routes planned out almost 2 months earlier than previously. Bryan High and Bryan Middle School plus Benson High and Monroe Middle School routes could be consolidated, but officials say they haven't needed to do that yet.
School starts on August 17 for OPS.