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CHCCS offers evening buses for students participating in after-school programs

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CHCCS buses sit in a parking lot on Aug. 24, 2023.

On Nov. 1, Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools began offering evening buses for middle and high school students who want to participate in after-school programs. One bus per school leaves each middle school at 5:35 p.m. and each high school at 6:35 p.m., Monday through Thursday.

The district said it implemented the program to make it easier on students to join sports, clubs, arts and other activities and that transportation home should not be a barrier for families.

Andy Jenks, the chief communications officer for CHCCS, said the Board of Education considered input from the community that evening buses would be a good idea and then collaborated with CHCCS administrative leadership to put a plan in place.

“No student should have to decline participation in sports or after-school activities or other extracurriculars because a ride home might be a question,” Jenks said.

He said the decision to extend bus services has been well-received by the community and that the district needs community members to help spread the word that this will be an option for families throughout the year.

“Once we get the word out, and people are sharing information about it, we're going to be thrilled to have increased participation in a variety of activities and extracurricular things. We're really proud of that as a district and we hope our community is proud of that as well,” Jenks said.

Elizabeth Anderson, the director of the NC Center for After School Programs at the Public School Forum, said after-school programs expand the learning day for students.

She said these programs provide a place for students to get additional academic support, participate in enrichment activities, and develop social and emotional skills that will help them to function in the world.

They also serve as a safe place for children to be looked after while their parents are working, she said.

Anderson said transportation is a major access barrier in North Carolina for students who want to or who would otherwise be enrolled in afterschool activities.

The nonprofit Afterschool Alliance published the fourth edition of America After 3PM, a report that surveyed parents on after-school programs, in 2022. 

The report found that in 2020, 48 percent of North Carolina parents cited “no safe way to get their child to and from programs” as a challenge to enrolling their child in a program and that 47 percent of North Carolina students would participate in an after-school program if they had access to one. 

The same year, transportation was nationally cited as a challenge for more low-income households and low-income households of color than high-income households, the report found.

“For school districts to partner with out-of-school time programs to offer extended hours for busing and things like that can make a really big difference to families,” Anderson said.

Taylor Dansby, the president of the Culbreth Middle School Parent Teacher Student Association, said he is excited about the district’s decision. 

“We're creating more equity in the public education here, just by making sure that there are fewer barriers keeping kids from participating in — in my opinion — one of the most valuable aspects of education,” he said. 

Dansby said Culbreth hosts a lot of different families with a lot of different resources. He said evening buses will allow students who rely on buses to participate in activities they wouldn’t have been able to participate in otherwise. 

“It’s going to have a critical impact,” he said.

@DTHCityState | city@dailytarheel.com


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