FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – During the first day of school for most districts, hiccups in transportation operations are common. Southwest Allen County Schools experienced longer delays than they anticipated.
On Wednesday evening, SACS sent an email to district families explaining the delays and that they have a better plan for the coming days. But ultimately the issue lies with the bus driver shortage.
The district told WANE 15 Wednesday that they need 10 bus drivers to fill their shortage gap. They have seven of those 10 already but those drivers will need several weeks to finish training.
But there were other contributing aspects to the delays. A nearby neighborhood has construction. A road in the neighborhood would be open for pick-up but then be closed in the afternoon for drop-off. This would then force the bus driver to find a different way through.
“There’s also a number of things happening in the community with roadways that have are down to one lane and some places buses can’t get through neighborhoods because they’re putting in new concrete,” said Superintendent Park Ginder. “All of those things cause a cascading of events that started with us trying to do some things well with safety and so we retained attendance on our buses before we were rolling.”
The district added they are also working with the county and city to look at different routes that could make transportation quicker.
Until the 10 bus drivers are on the road, delays will still happen, just not as drastic. This district is still navigating a new three-tier system with Homestead High School, Summit Middle School, and Aboite Elementary School. The buildings are so close to each other that start times are now different to relieve that traffic stress.
Apart from some of the changes, the attendance rolling will be happening at a different and more efficient time. But the district needs the parents’ help as well to make sure their kids are on the right bus and on time.
“One of the things I would encourage our parents to do is ‘Here Comes the Bus’ it’s an app that will track your bus and give you a sense of where they are,” Ginder said. “It’s a good way of knowing where your student is in the afternoon, and when you need to get to the end of the road your bus is coming.”
Thursday morning, the district had smoother bus transportation than on the first day.
“We had a much better success rate, we were down to just a few buses in a number of elementary schools that were running late,” Ginder said. “A couple at Summit Middle School, so we get a lot better, and when I say late, they weren’t significantly late like they were yesterday.”
But once school was let out, buses on Tier Two and Three were operating on a 45-minute delay, according to the district. Cause the last bus to leave at 4:36 p.m. Thursday evening.
To become a bus driver for SACS, a link to the application can be found here, or call 260-431-2050.