Howard County Schools Reverses Bus Service Cuts

After a year of community pressure, Howard County Public Schools is restoring bus service for thousands of students. In June 2023, the district cut service for about 3,500 students by increasing distance requirements for bus eligibility. This decision faced significant backlash from parents concerned about safety.

The school board recently voted to decrease distance requirements for bus eligibility. These changes will take effect in fall 2025. For elementary schools, the distance has been reduced from 1 mile to 0.75 miles. Middle school students will now be eligible if they live more than 1 mile away, down from 1.5 miles. High school students will qualify if they live beyond 1.5 miles, reduced from 2 miles.

The district estimates needing 11 additional buses to accommodate the changes. While students who lost service won’t have it restored for the upcoming school year, it should be available by the following year.

Parents like Amber and Mark Sam Chee expressed satisfaction that their concerns were heard. The decision comes after sustained community efforts, including speaking at board meetings, organizing petitions, and public demonstrations.

Board members cited impacts on families unable to afford alternative transportation as a key factor in the decision. The board chair, Jennifer Swickard Mallo, stated the change reflects both board and community wishes.

This reversal highlights the power of community advocacy and the importance of accessible school transportation for families.