Dayton, Ohio – During the first week of school, many local residents and parents of school-aged children reported a difficulty with the daily bus routes and school buses that transport students to and from school. In some occasions, students in Dayton were two hours late to school and waited up to three hours to be picked up and taken home.
Due to the pandemic, a number of school districts nationwide have faced similar problems in previous years. The lack of bus drivers is the main source of the transportation problems, which resulted in the decrease of bus routes.
For many in the Dayton area, the first week of school was challenging. Officials with the Dayton Public Schools said in a statement that they were aware of the problem and were already attempting to resolve it. A week later, there is a noticeable improvement, but there is still much work to be done before the situation returns to normal.
According to Marie Winfrey, head of the drivers’ union and a bus driver, the first day of school was a complete disaster because drivers were not properly informed of where to stop. In the days that followed, the situation improved slightly, but massive delays persisted.
“We don’t know when they’re going to come, so we’re hanging out on the corner for them to come,” Alyssa Pennington, the elementary principal of Horizon Science Academy in Dayton said. When classes are over, busses are again late for hours. “They are not coming up until as late as 5 p.m.,” Pennington added.
Dayton Public Schools superintendent Elizabeth Lolli this week confirmed that their effort provided results this week. According to her, some of the current routes were adjusted, while several other routes were added, and they will continue to work to hire additional bus drivers, which will provide room to open additional routes.
“Overall, the second week has seen improvements in transportation, and the district is confident those improvements will continue,” Lolli said.
Dayton is not the only school district in Ohio with transportation problems involving school buses. According to Todd Silverthorn, the head of the Ohio Association for Pupil Transportation, every school district in the state faces such challenges. Again, the school bus driver shortage seems to be the primary cause. While school districts consider increasing wages and offering incentives to attract more drivers, Montgomery County Education Services Center superintendent Shannon Cox believes there is no “easy fix” to this problem, and she anticipates that the state will continue to experience driver shortages.
Cox said the first weeks of school are always difficult, but workforce issues have made figuring out a new school year harder.
“It’s always a guessing game, but it’s a bigger guessing game now because of workforce issues,” Cox said.
Meanwhile, parents of Kettering City Schools students have reported a difficulty with the Stopfinder mobile application. Parents use the Stopfinder app to monitor where their children are in real-time, but login troubles have barred them from accessing the service in recent days.
Kettering City Schools officials said that the developer is already working on fixing the issues with the app and they expect the app to be fully operational for everyone by the end of the week.