Paragould School District attributes increased bus ridership to convenience, economics

Paragould School District attributes increased bus ridership to convenience, economics

PARAGOULD, AR (KAIT) - The Paragould School District has seen a trend over the last few years that's resulted in multiple additions to the district.

Bus ridership has increased significantly over the past couple of years. In that time, the school district has also added new buses and new bus routes.

Assistant Superintendent Scott Gauntt said last year, approximately 90-100 kids joined the Paragould School District and they even had a few more kids join the district this year.

In that same time though, bus ridership has jumped from approximately 1,800 to 2,000 riders.

Gauntt attributes the increase to a couple of things.

"Number one is just the convenience," Gauntt said. "Our parents are seeing that, you know, we can put our kids on the bus, they're going to be taken care of, they're going to be transported safely, and I don't have to drive them back and forth and deal with the traffic and all the things that go along with bringing them back and forth to school. The other one is economics."

Gauntt explained that as the economy in Paragould grows, they see more parents working and more students riding the bus.

"Sometimes it's hard for them. Depending on if they work in a factory, what shift they work, they may not be able to physically get their students here," Gauntt said. "A lot of our parents will bring their students in the mornings but won't have the ability to get them in the afternoons."

Gauntt said the district's 10-year growth plan accommodated for growth but they didn't anticipate it to the level they're seeing.

"But that's a good thing. Paragould has been very fortunate, we have a strong economic base with good factories and good jobs and when you have jobs, people want to come live in your area and that's really helped us with our ridership and our student population."

Gauntt told Region 8 News that they added one bus route already this year and are looking at adding a second to accommodate the increase in ridership.

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