FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – With week one in the books, Fort Wayne Community Schools is looking back on what worked and what didn’t. The theme to the start of this school year seems to be the aftermath of the transportation cuts, which stopped bus service for around 7,000 students.
Even with the challenges those funding cuts brought, the district said it’s been mostly smooth sailing.
“We anticipated that there would be a lot to learn in that first week, and I don’t know in most cases that we could’ve done anything different to prepare for it.” Fort Wayne Community Schools spokesperson Krista Stockman said. “The first week, I think most people are pretty happy with how things went. We’re still working on things and tweaking things here and there in terms of transportation and new procedures with the new hours. All in all, everyone seems to be adjusting quite well.”
Long lines and packed parking lots were common sites last week for many FWCS schools. This week, things are starting to improve.
“I won’t say that there aren’t still waits. Anybody who has ever participated in a car rider line knows that it can take a while,” Stockman said. “We’ll get through it as fast as we can, and usually all of the cars are out within about 20 minutes.”
Those long lines during the first few days led to the district reworking traffic patterns at various schools.
“Just with walkers and car riders and kids riding bikes, those traffic patterns around the buildings- some of those have needed to be tweaked because students are used to walking one way, cars are used to going a different way, and some of that with the volume we have now just doesn’t work the same way that it used to,” Stockman said. “Some of that we had to just wait and see in action before we could really make those changes. Our schools try to be accommodating and try to be good neighbors, and the people that live around there generally understand.”
The transportation cuts also changed the daily schedule, pushing back extracurriculars and after school jobs.
“We heard obviously lots of complaints before the start of the school year and what it was going to mean, but since the school year has started, I haven’t heard anything,” Stockman said. “We’ve still got extracurriculars for all of our students who want to participate. We still have our extracurricular buses that run in the evenings.”
Stockman also said many school leaders are pleased with how things are going so far.
“I’ve heard a lot of principals say that this has been the smoothest start they’ve had which speaks volumes to how much they prepared and how much their staff prepared and their parents prepared for all of these changes,” Stockman said.
Still, the district recognizes that things haven’t been perfect.
“I also know there are people who think things haven’t been perfect so for the inconvenience on their lives, that’s what they see,” Stockman said.
All in all, the district said cooperation from parents is to thank for a smooth start to the year.
“There were some things that we were concerned about early on and parents really worked with us and made the best of it,” Stockman said.
The district plans to meet with police and city leaders on a regular basis to analyze how the new procedures are working.
“It’ll be a process all year where we are constantly examining and reexamining and then having more official meetings where people sit down together and talk about what’s working and what’s not working because we don’t want to wait if there’s an immediate issue. We don’t want to wait until next year to fix it if it can be fixed now. At the same time, if there are things that are working really well somewhere and we can replicate them at another building, then we want to do that too,” Stockman said.