Stillwater schools weigh ideas to combat bus driver shortage
Parents in Stillwater are hoping the district will solve a shortage of bus drivers soon.
Tuesday night, the school district held an emergency meeting to discuss the issue after dozens of bus routes were canceled, affecting thousands of families.
The superintendent says they are exploring every option, from using vans to reimbursing parents who drive their kids to school.
This comes after 15 buses sat idle with no drivers on Tuesday.
"Re-routing will begin immediately and take effect in the next two weeks. Families will be notified of the changes in their service," Superintendent Malinda Landsfeldt said. "We have been looking into a variety of possible solutions. No one option solves the entire transportation issue. There is no quick fix or easy answer."
In a meeting Tuesday night, Stillwater school board members heard about the list of possible ideas.
The director of operations said in addition to re-routing buses, officials are trying to expand bus hubs where a bus might make one stop in a neighborhood instead of seven. However, that might mean more walking for some students.
The superintendent said the priority is transportation for children who live more than two miles from school and for special education students.
The announcement was made after the district sued its carrier Metropolitan Transportation Network for alleged breach of contract, saying it first learned about the driver shortage last Wednesday.
In the meantime, parents like Jorlene Leslie said they hope the problem is resolved soon as they scramble to find ways to take kids to school.
"It uproars everything. It makes it a mess. It makes it very ugly. They don’t know when they’re coming, they don’t know when they’re going. Routine is nice, and our kids need that right now," Leslie said.
School officials said they hope to have some answers for parents in the next week or two.
They say they will continue to look for people interested in driving buses. The district will get them signed up and walk them through the license requirements needed.