UPDATE (February 27, 2018, 11:21 p.m.):
At Tuesday night's board meeting, Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services Mark Luque said the district consulted with GATE parents and received feedback. BCSD will put GATE students on an early 8:15 a.m. start time and provide supervision before school beginning at 7:30 a.m. to help with logistics for parents.
Luque also said the district wants to grow the GATE program and will begin universal screening for all 2nd and 4th graders in hopes of identifying more students.
The growth of the program within the district will depend on how many students qualify.
Parents of students enrolled in Bakersfield City School District Magnet programs received a letter notifying them that transportation services would no longer be available next school year.
The letter reads:
Recently, the Bakersfield City School District (“District”) Board of Education approved changes to reorganize the District’s transportation services in order to reduce overcrowding on school buses and shorten travel distances for students where possible. As part of this reorganization the District will no longer provide transportation services, to and from school, for non-resident students attending a Magnet Program. A non-resident student means the student does not live in the attendance area of the school. Transportation services will only be provided to those students living within the school’s attendance area and whose residence is more than one mile from school.
BCSD says next year's change comes as part of a bigger reorganization to the district's transportation services in order to reduce overcrowding on school buses and shorten travel distances for students where possible. In some cases, students are spending as long as 90 minutes on a bus one-way.
Superintendent Doc Ervin says the change may come as an inconvenience for 324 students, but it will improve the experience of about 9,000 students.
The district says the current bus system was created with Magnet students as the priority. Of the 183 bus routes, 45 are for Magnet students alone.
BCSD says the reorganization will include a three tier schedule which will take 45 different start times at BCSD schools down to only three. Middle schools will begin at 7:35 a.m. and elementary schools at either 8:15 a.m. or 8:55 a.m.
Parents like Melissa McMatt say the lack of transportation will make getting her daughter Alexis Jackson to Bessy Owens Intermediate nearly impossible.
Alexis came to Owens for the Gifted and Talented Education program three years ago. Her mother says she is one of nine siblings that needs to get dropped off at school in the morning. Magnet program bussing made her participation in GATE possible, since she lives 25 minutes away from Owens.
The district says they are waiting for Magnet parents to respond to their letter with how they plan on handling the change next year. That could mean finding alternative transportation or attending the school designated for their address.
BCSD says depending on the responses they receive, a solution like satellite bus stops may be possible for Magnet students.
The new school and bus schedules go into effect in the 2018-2019 school year.