In 2010, the 51,000-student Columbus, Ohio, school district considered cutting busing of high school students as a money-saving measure, just as most of the other large districts in the state had done.
But the state’s biggest district managed to come up with a creative solution: Instead of doing away with busing for older students altogether, Columbus eliminated most neighborhood bus stops and used neighborhood schools as centralized stops for older students. The change cut the number of high school bus stops from nearly 1,500 to 230 and pared about $2 million from the district’s $50 million-a-year transportation budget.
“Doing away with the service is doing a disservice to our students,” says Steve A. Simmons III, who came up with the idea. The director of transportation for the past six years, Simmons, 56, has spent 30 years with the district, where he started as a bus mechanic and worked his way up.
His longevity gives him a certain amount of leeway with the school board, he says—though he jokes that he is a “loudmouth.”
“I’m very vocal,” he says, “because I’ve come up through the system.”