Bryn Mawr parochial-school kids find busing scarce

Until this year, Bryn Mawr students could get a ride to one of many parochial schools courtesy of the Minneapolis Public School (MPS) district. This year, there’s only one option: attend Ascension Church School, 1726 Dupont Ave. S. – or find your own ride.

The change upset many Bryn Mawr families who attend a Southwest parochial school such as Carondelet Catholic School, with campuses at 3210 W. 51st St. and 2900 W. 44th St.

MPS is required to bus kids to charter and parochial schools, but it has discretion about how far it will transport kids. In the past, the district bused Bryn Mawr kids to places like Carondelet, but that changed due to budget cuts, MPS General Counsel Allen Giles said.

MPS is divided into over 20 transportation areas according to attendance boundaries, and busing between them is restricted to save money. Some of the 20 districts offer more Catholic school selection because more schools are located there. However, that isn’t the case in Bryn Mawr’s district.

Bryn Mawr children can bus to Ascension because that was the most affordable option for neighborhood families, Giles said. Ascension offers the same grades and subjects as Carondelet and it’s the closest Catholic school to Bryn Mawr.

Parents asked why the neighborhood’s public-school kids could get a ride to Barton Open Elementary, 4237 Colfax Ave. S. and not to Carondelet, which is nearby.

Giles said MPS allows kids to be bused further to magnet schools such as Barton, because of federal and state desegregation monies. MPS would not bus Bryn Mawr kids to Burroughs Elementary, 1501 W. 50th, which is also near Carondelet, because Burroughs is a community school. MPS limits busing so its “transportation department could make most efficient use of limited resources,” Giles added.

Transportation cutbacks have also affected public-school families; a few years ago, Southwest parents who used daycare sites east of I-35W were told MPS would no longer bus students to and from schools west of I-35W.

Giles said that the process of determining transportation boundaries is based on input from school principals and parents. Parents are notified well in advance so when this kind of service is discontinued, it’s not a surprise, he said.