Southern Indiana Parents Advocate for School Bus System Changes

A shortage in the number of available bus drivers has recently complicated Greater Clark County’s school transportation system. Transportation Director Daniel Borders, for the Southern Indiana School System, said they had to cancel at least two bus routes each day this semester. When the bus is cancelled, parents are responsible for getting their child to and from campus that day, but the district grants an excused absence to students who cannot make it to school. “Excused absence is great, but when you’re so lacking in classroom instruction that you don’t know what to do with homework,” said Lacy Phillips, whose son attends Riverside Elementary School. It’s like what we’re doing to solve the problem.” For Phillips, this semester has been frustrating, and on Monday he reached a breaking point. She had to drive her son to Riverside again. According to Phillips, it was the fifth time in the last six days of school that she had to do it after her son’s bus route was canceled.” Some kids and their parents are like, ‘What’s the problem? That’s not us. only happened once or twice,” Phillips said. “For me, it’s been every week this school year.” In fact, she’s tracked every day her son’s bus route was canceled this semester, on a calendar, each red X marking a cancellation.” I’ve spoken to someone who says their child has school grades. failing right now, at the end of the year, because of learning loss,” Phillips said. According to Borders, they started the school year with 10 bus routes open. To combat this, they canceled at least two a day on an alternating basis. “We were able to spread that out a bit at the start of the year. Now that we only have three routes open, it’s the same routes that have been canceled lately. However, with the hiring of new people, as well than opening up new policies and procedures, we’re able to mitigate some of that. We’re just waiting for all the pieces to be in place in the next week or two, and we should see a drastic change in the over the next two weeks,” Border said. It made sense. “On an assembly line, if someone is missing, everyone works harder and longer to pick up the slack,” Borders said. “In transport, if you don’t show up that day, we have to replace you individually. In our case, when you don’t have the people, there aren’t a lot of options in there.” Borders said they are currently in the process of hiring new drivers. He said the District leaders will travel to Indianapolis this week “for training in creative ways to solve the problem. ‘Believe it when she sees it.’ I don’t think it’s going to go back to normal,” Phillips said. I think they need to adjust to the new normal and find better ways to address this issue.” It should be noted that the bus shortages are not limited to the Greater Clark County School District. The JCPS and the Oldham County schools said they also had several bus driver positions open.The New Albany Floyd County School District said it also had to cancel bus routes this semester.

A shortage in the number of available bus drivers has recently complicated Greater Clark County’s school transportation system.

Transportation Director Daniel Borders of the Southern Indiana School System said they had to cancel at least two bus routes every day this semester.

When the bus is cancelled, parents are responsible for getting their child to and from campus that day, but the district grants an excused absence to students who cannot make it to school.

“Excused absence is great, but when you miss so much classroom instruction that you don’t know what to do for homework to take home,” said Lacy Phillips, whose son attends Riverside Elementary School. “So that’s like what we’re doing to fix the problem.”

For Phillips, it’s been a frustrating semester, and on Monday he hit a breaking point. She had to drive her son to Riverside again. According to Phillips, it was the fifth time in the last six school days that she had to do so after her son’s bus route was cancelled.

“Some kids and their parents are like, ‘What’s wrong? It’s only happened to us once or twice,'” Phillips said. “For me, it’s every week this school year.”

In fact, she tracked every day her son’s bus route was canceled this semester, on a calendar, with each red X marking a cancellation.

“I spoke to someone who said their child was failing right now, at the end of the year, because of learning loss,” Phillips said.

According to Borders, they started the school year with 10 bus routes open. To combat it, they canceled at least two a day in rotation.

“We were able to kind of broadcast that [cancellations] a little down at the start of the year. Now that we only have three routes open, these are the same routes that have been canceled lately. However, by hiring new people and opening new policies and procedures, we are able to mitigate some of this. We’re just expecting all the pieces to fall into place within a week or two, and we should see a drastic change within the next two weeks,” Border said.

Borders said it looked at every possibility to remedy the solution, including assigning drivers to multiple routes, but said cancellations were the only thing that made sense.

“On an assembly line, if someone is missing, everyone works harder and longer to pick up the slack,” Borders said. “In transport, if you don’t show up that day, we have to replace you individually. In our case, when you don’t have the people, there aren’t many options in there.”

Borders said they are currently in the process of hiring new drivers. He said district leaders will travel to Indianapolis this week “for training in creative ways to solve the problem.”

He said the hope was that they could resume normal activities next school year, but for Phillips, she said she would believe him when she saw him.

“I don’t think it’s going to go back to normal,” Phillips said. “I think they have to adapt to the new normal and find better ways to solve this problem.”

It should be noted that the bus shortages are not unique to the Greater Clark County School District. JCPS and Oldham County Schools said they also have several bus driver positions open.

The New Albany Floyd County School District said it also had to cancel bus routes this semester.

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