Bus Driver Shortage Significantly Impacting Pick-up and Drop-off Times

Cruiser Parents & Guardians,

Bus Driver Shortage Significantly Impacting Pick-up and Drop-off Times
As promised, we’re writing to provide an update on the status of our transportation operation. The primary issue impacting the delivery of services is the shortage of licensed and state-certified bus drivers.

Our contract service provider, Petermann Transportation, has been working to recruit, hire, and train new drivers. As with many businesses at the moment, it’s extremely difficult to get applicants.

Petermann has some new drivers who have completed everything they need to get their license, but they're awaiting their signed paperwork from the state, which will allow them to begin work. Petermann has assured us that they are continuing to recruit and train drivers to ensure we have all of our routes covered and a sufficient number of substitute bus drivers to fill in as needed.

Now Transporting to More Charter/Private Schools
HB110 was signed into law last spring, which resulted in the District transporting significantly more charter- and private-schooled students who live in our school district, regardless of where their school is located. The District previously provided transportation to 11 charter/private schools; we’re now transporting students to 28 schools. This change has significantly impacted routing efficiency and further strained an already challenged system.

How Delays Occur
A shortage of drivers causes many of them to cover multiple routes, which means that once they finish their assigned route, they have to pick up another group of students going to another school. They also may have to combine routes, which makes the routes longer than scheduled. These situations alone can result in delays ranging from 20-60 minutes. This doesn’t even factor in other potential delays caused by traffic back-ups and/or road closures.

Reports of Buses Passing Stops
Another concern brought to our attention is buses passing by students at assigned bus stops. In nearly all cases, the same bus (let’s use bus 20 as an example) runs a high school route, middle school, and elementary school each morning. Because of the delays we’re experiencing, bus 20 may still be picking up middle school students when the elementary school students are starting to arrive at their bus stops. While it would appear the bus skipped the elementary school bus stop, in fact, the bus must first drop off the middle school students and then return to their elementary school route, which is also now late being picked up.

Keeping You Informed of Changes and Delays
We're working very hard to inform you of bus changes and/or delays through our mass communication system's texting feature. As beneficial as that system is, it's dependent on us getting accurate and timely information to share with you. We’ve also found some situations where our text messages are being blocked by cell phone providers and by those registered on the "National Do Not Call List." If you aren't receiving texts when your child's bus is late, call our communications office at 614-916-1163, or email us at [email protected] so that we can help to determine why you’re not getting our messages.

Students Not Counted as Tardy or Absent Due to Late Buses
There has been concern expressed that students arriving late to school are being counted as tardy or absent. By state law, attendance must be taken very shortly after school has started, and parents are then notified of their child's absence. Even though you may receive a call indicating your child is absent from school, we've instructed our principals to ensure that students' attendance records are corrected so they aren't counted tardy or absent when they arrive at school on a late bus.

Student Behavior on Buses
We continue to ask for your assistance and support with student behaviors on our school buses. The safety of our students and the bus drivers is a top priority. We will not tolerate behavior that is disruptive, damaging, or distracts the driver from their responsibilities. We will suspend bus privileges for students who fail to follow the driver's instructions and bus safety rules. In many instances, there are also school disciplinary consequences for misbehavior on our buses. You can find the expectations and guidelines for maintaining bus privileges in the District Handbook/Code of Conduct in your FinalForms account.

Thank you for your continued patience. We know the bus changes and delays are causing great aggravation and worry for many parents – and we're very sorry. The bus drivers are doing everything they can to get kids to and from school as safely and quickly as possible. We're also doing all we can to provide extra support to assist Petermann with answering phones, responding to concerns, and encouraging potential bus drivers to apply.

If you have specific concerns, please feel free to contact your child’s principal or our communications office for assistance.

We will continue to keep you apprised of any additional updates or changes as new information is available.

Thank you,

Garilee Ogden

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