LEXINGTON, Ky. (FOX 56/WKYT) – Since the start of school this year, it hasn’t just been COVID keeping kids out of the classrooms, but cancelled routes.
Several routes have been cancelled daily. Now parents said if they don’t have the ability to drive their children to school, they just don’t go that day at all.
“He loves riding the bus, but here lately, I’ve just been driving him to and from school because it’s madness trying to get him on the bus,” said one parent.
With a young son in the Fayette County Public Schools system, this parent showed us an announcement on the Class Dojo app. It’s telling her that her son’s bus route was cancelled Wednesday. She said his route is cancelled often, but she’s lucky to have gotten the message when she did.
“One morning bus didn’t show up at all. I didn’t get an email until later on that day. I was like, ‘why couldn’t you tell me that before?’ You know, because we went to the bus stop and the bus never showed.”
And she’s not alone. Half a dozen to a dozen routes have been cancelled daily. If the route isn’t cancelled, this mom says there’s a good chance the bus is going to be late.
“We’ve been dealing with this since school started. The first day of school, the bus didn’t show up. I went ahead and drove my kid to school, but the neighbors stood out there and said it didn’t show up for another 30 minutes.”
The district has recognized there is a major bus driver shortage. Even raising the hourly rate for substitute drivers from $17.76 to $30. But until more positions are filled, many parents are being left in bus route limbo.
“One day the bus shows up, one day the bus doesn’t show up. So you really never know if it’s going to come or not.”
The school district did release a statement :
“Last week, the Fayette County Board of Education approved significant salary increases for full time and substitute transportation employees. Our hope is that this initial step will help us fill vacancies and we are pulling together a team of classified hourly staff to help us identify next steps, which could include other incentives.
The district is hiring an external consultant to help us with short-term and long-term solutions that could include pre-scheduled bus cancellations or delays that would enable families to make advance arrangements and ensure that the same families are not impacted repeatedly. We have identified routes that can be outsourced and we are working on a possible fourth tier of start times and long term sustainability. We have also placed a priority on ensuring people are available to answer phone calls.
We deeply regret that our current situation has forced us to cancel or delay bus service to our families and we apologize to families who have been negatively impacted. While we continue to look for a long-term solution to this challenge, we have encouraged all families to develop contingency plans for getting their children to school. We are encouraged by anecdotal evidence of neighborhoods working together to ensure that no students are left without transportation, but we are granting excused absences for any students who are unable to get to school because of a bus cancellation.”