Transportation changes are coming to Indianapolis Public Schools next year. Here’s what to expect.

A large yellow and black school bus turns a corner on a street under a street light.
Indianapolis Public Schools will require families to opt-in to receive transportation starting in 2024-25. (Elaine Cromie / Chalkbeat)

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Indianapolis Public Schools parents can’t just assume their child’s regular school bus will show up at the bus stop next year.

That’s because families in the school district will be required to opt in to transportation. IPS hopes this move will create more efficiency as it switches to four broad enrollment zones that allow families to choose from more schools with more specialized academic offerings. (See which zone you reside in here.)

The change to transportation policy and new district enrollment policies are some of the major changes taking effect for the 2024-25 school year, as the district continues to roll out its Rebuilding Stronger strategy.

While many districts have faced transportation staffing challenges in recent years, IPS reports that it is fully staffed with bus drivers this year. The district recently renewed its agreement with First Student, which provides student transportation, for another three years.

Still, district officials anticipate a short-term challenge in transportation next year, when they predict more students will take the bus. This is in part because the district will offer transportation to certain eligible families who live outside of their school’s zone for next year only in an effort to curb instability for students.

Here are some answers to questions about IPS and transportation next school year.

How do I opt-in for IPS transportation?

When families register for their IPS school for 2024-25, there will be a section to fill out an opt-in form. Parents can access this on their PowerSchool portal account.

Do Innovation school students need to opt-in for transportation?

Some schools in the district’s Innovation Network of autonomous schools use transportation services through IPS. Families at these Innovation schools will also need to fill out an opt-in form. Check here to see whether your Innovation school uses IPS transportation.

Does my IPS student have to walk to school?

Students who qualify as “walkers” will not be eligible for IPS transportation and so will not be assigned a bus stop. A student is a walker based on how far away they live from their school. The parameters for qualifying as a walker are:

  • K-5 students living 1 mile or less from school.
  • Students in grades 6-8 living 1.25 miles or less from school.
  • High school students living 1.5 miles or less from school.

Students who do not qualify as “walkers” but live in the same zone as the school they are attending will qualify for transportation.

Will my IPS student get transportation for before- or after-school care?

Students in grades K-8 will receive transportation to before- or after-school care sites only if they live in the same zone as the school. The site must also be in the same zone as the school, and the bus stop must be at the same location in the morning and the evening.

Is my IPS student eligible for transportation through IndyGo?

The district is still reviewing eligibility parameters for students who would take the public bus IndyGo system to school for 2024-25. The district should have more details on who qualifies in late April.

Currently, high school students who walk no more than 0.7 miles from their home to the IndyGo bus stop to school are eligible to ride IndyGo — as long as there are no transfers and the bus ride is no more than 30 minutes. There are about 500 IndyGo riders this school year in the district’s four traditional high schools, which have roughly 5,500 students this year, according to state enrollment records.

But IPS Chief Operations Officer Wililam Murphy said the district wants to explore widening those requirements so more students can qualify.

Will I get transportation if I transfer to an IPS school mid-year?

Families transferring to an IPS school in the middle of the school year can still receive transportation if they qualify.

However, the district cautions that it could take four to eight weeks to receive a bus assignment.

“The closer we are to the start of the year, the harder it will be to route you quickly,” Murphy said, adding that early October and January tend to be “bottleneck periods” when more families enter the district. In those periods, it may take longer for a bus placement, he said.

Can I get IPS transportation outside of my school’s zone?

Families that live outside the zone of their school may still qualify for transportation only for the 2024-25 school year if they meet one of two circumstances.

Students who live outside of the zone of the school they currently attend may receive transportation for 2024-25 if they plan to attend the same school next year. They must already receive transportation to their school, where they must stay enrolled for the remainder of this year. They also must remain at their current address.

Students who plan to attend the middle school that their current school automatically feeds to under the Rebuilding Stronger enrollment patterns — even if they live outside of the zone for that middle school — can also receive transportation for 2024-25.

For example, a seventh grade student at Butler Lab School 60 living in Zone 2 can receive the one-year reprieve for transportation to Northwest Middle School, the Zone 1 feeder school for School 60.

These exceptions are to ensure students can stay with their classmates and experience as few transitions as possible.

“The north star is: how can we avoid forcing to have a child to have two changes in the course of two years — a move to a different middle school, and then a move to a high school?” Murphy said.

Beyond 2024-25, however, families eligible for these exceptions will not receive transportation.

Where do I get more information?

The district says the quickest way for families to get the most accurate transportation information is by contacting your child’s school directly. Families can also contact their child’s school for help enrolling in transportation. The district also has a frequently asked questions page on its website.

Families can also call the IPS Service Center at 317-226-4000 or submit a transportation inquiry on the district’s Let’s Talk web page.

Amelia Pak-Harvey covers Indianapolis and Lawrence Township schools for Chalkbeat Indiana. Contact Amelia at

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