Phoenix, AZ — A for Arizona released today “Driving Excellence” a policy brief focused on what is needed for a 21st Century K-12 transportation system. Diversity in school models has been a key driver of educational progress and made Arizona a leader in student-centered education.

However, antiquated student transportation systems have thus far been ignored during this transformative process.

In addition to Arizona’s robust offerings of schooling models, other factors such as parent expectations for safety, inefficient and expensive vehicles, challenging rural terrain, and major shifts in labor supply are accelerating the need for change in school transportation programs.

“The current system built around the 80-passenger yellow school bus as the sole strategy is making it more difficult and expensive for school leaders to update how students are safely transported to and from school,” said Emily Anne Gullickson, Founder and CEO of A for Arizona. “Two challenges that repeatedly came up during our conversations with school leaders were the bus driver shortage and the desire to rethink expensive but crucial transportation strategies and equipment from the ground up. Our school leaders see technology, a more diverse set of vehicles and drivers, community partnerships, parent grants, carpools, and ride share as critical tools to be leveraged for better access to get students to school and home safely.”

With approval from the Arizona Legislature in FY2022, the public school Transportation Modernization Grants Program proposal was adopted with $20 million worth of state funding to seed efficient, safe, cost-effective and student appropriate options for transporting K-12 students with diverse needs in the modern era. Ultimately, 71 district and charter systems, nonprofits, and local governments representing all 15 counties requested more than $50 million to move their solution, innovation, and future-changing transit idea forward.

The policy brief highlights lessons learned from first round of grant awardees and provides recommendations for state and federal governments to rework school transportation funding and regulations:

  • Ensure both funding and regulatory environment are flexible to allow for a variety of transportation solutions and how miles accrue for funding to go beyond the yellow bus
  • Ensure the funding and regulatory environment are responsive to the unique needs of
  • schools of different sizes and locations
  • students with varying transportation needs
  • Make dedicated transportation funding available to all public school models providing transportation programming to their students
  • Allow collaboration between school systems and community partners for shared transportation solutions
  • Create regular opportunities to modernize infrastructure as well as state and federal regulatory frameworks to keep up with rapidly changing vehicle and transportation tools
Read the Policy Brief


About A for Arizona
At A for Arizona, we firmly believe that expanding excellence is our best chance to ensure all K-12 students have access to, and benefit from, high-performing schools and all educational opportunities. We imagine a day where excellence has spread, and failure has fallen away, leaving only the best learning options available for all students.