District encounters bus transportation issues due to bus driver shortage

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Photo by Sydney Rodd

A district school bus picks up high school students to bring them home. The bus routes with drivers are making sure that students are transported to and from school safely.

Sydney Rodd, Business Editor and Copy Editor

As the school year begins, the district puts in hard work to cover missing bus routes after their vendor was unable to provide enough drivers for students. This year, Metropolitan Transport Network is having trouble finding drivers, leaving many routes and families without transportation.

Many students of all ages were left in the dark without any transportation to and from school. Families were notified only days before the elementary school-aged students started the school year. At the start of the school year, many families had to quickly find other options to get their children to school safely and on time. The district is hoping to keep families up to date on their website.

“When we found out that there wasn’t a bus available, it was kind of like, ‘oh my God,’ what am I going to do?” junior Cassie Chuckna said. “It’s definitely affected my family.”

The missing buses have impacted almost 4,000 students. This number continues to rise as changes are made. Hundreds of students not originally affected by the missing routes will be affected by the changed routes. It will take a few weeks to identify priority areas, and create new routes. It will take at least two weeks to implement the new routes.

According to reporter Jennifer Hoff from Kare 11, “Superintendent Malinda Lansfeldt discussed focusing on the priority routes that are two miles or more away, all of which could include up to 1,600 students.”

Presently, there is a temporary “no busing zone” of two miles. Under state law, the district is required to provide transportation to students living outside of two miles from their school. The new routes will focus on this requirement.

Lansfeldt said that by statutory requirement or by law, the district needs to transport all students that live two miles out and further out from their school.

“When we found out that there wasn’t a bus available, it was kind of like, ‘oh my God’, what am I going to do?” junior Cassie Chuckna said. “

It gave us an opportunity to give back to someone who has given so much so we are able to go school and play hockey.”

— Cassie Chuckna

As a result of unavailable buses, parent drop-off and pick-up times are congested. There are extremely long lines of cars waiting to pick up students, waiting 30 minutes or longer. The staff of each school is working extremely hard to make sure that drop-off and pick-up are going smoothly.

When working to lessen drop-off and pick-up for students, Lansfeldt said that, “principals are saying that there are a lot of carpool lines. I have to give credit to the staff for working very very hard to make that process of drop off and pick up as smooth and as safe as possible.”

The board is exploring the idea of adjusting start and end times at the high school. The school day may start anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes earlier than its current time, 7:40 a.m. Many students are upset with an earlier start time and created a change.org petition you can view here. At the time of writing, it has over 700 signatures.

When asked about adjusting bell times, Lansfeldt said, “We could possibly keep the start and end times, but we know that there will need to be changes.”

As for what is next, the school board continues to look for more ways to lessen the impact of the bus driver shortage. The school board has held multiple meetings discussing ideas and possible solutions. The district hopes the bus driver shortage will be fixed within three months.