Dayton, Ohio – Since the Covid-19 pandemic hit, hundreds of school districts across the country have been having problems with school bus drivers’ shortages, something that is further reflected in delays, route cancelations, and asking parents to drive their children to schools on their own.
More or less, almost every single school district in Ohio has felt these problems too. While some of the school districts statewide managed to fix the driver shortage issues, others are still having issues in the 2022–2023 school year.
So is the case with the Dayton Public Schools. Earlier this week, officials with the DPS confirmed they have major problems with delays, but they are working to fix these issues as soon as possible.
Both parents and charter schools in the area have already confirmed that children are sometimes late for classes for hours. But the problem doesn’t only occur in the mornings. School buses are also late in the afternoon, when children should be taken home from schools.
Alyssa Pennington is the elementary principal of Horizon Science Academy in Dayton. She spoke to News Center 7′s Mike Campbell and explained what has been going on for nearly two weeks, since the start of the school year on August 10.
“We don’t know when they’re going to come, so we’re hanging out on the corner for them to come,” she 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 is not the only district that faces this kind of problem. Both parents and school employees are aware that bus drivers are not the ones to blame, but it is the transportation department that is obligated to find a solution to problems tied to the students’ transportation.
In the mornings, school employees wait for students for hours. But the bigger issue takes place in the afternoon hours when students have to go home from school. That said, parents are having a hard time properly planning their time and waiting for their children to come home. Sometimes, parents are not able to get out of work when buses are late.
In recent months, there have been several meetings with the aim of properly organizing the students’ transportation in the area, but these meetings didn’t deliver the wanted and expected results. Last year, the DPS contracted with a private company, First Student, to haul private and charter school students last year and took it over themselves this year. DPS Superintendent Elizabeth Lolli says the district has 107 active bus drivers, which, according to her, is enough to cover their needs, but unofficially, the district will need more drivers to cover all 96 routes.
“We are having these issues, they’re not meeting our needs,” Pennington said.
While DPS is working on a permanent solution to this problem, DPS officials said they will introduce new routes starting Monday, August 22, to solve the delays in the short run.