MT makes transport adjustments – The Record Herald
A common concern heard across Ohio this school year is the lack of transportation for students. One of the districts struggling with transportation is Miami Trace’s local schools, and several local entities have tried to help.
The transportation shortage was not caused by understaffing, according to Miami Trace Superintendent Kim Pittser.
Pittser explained via email, “We have been blessed here at Miami Trace with a full transport staff. However, the timing of a multitude of factors has impacted our recent struggle. While COVID has hit our driver group hard, we also have several drivers absent for other health-related reasons. “
Households in the district had to find alternative ways for students to travel to school rather than by bus, be patient with bus changes, or find ways to keep students safe at home for the day. due to cancellation of transport.
MT Transport Manager Joni Daniels-Blouse explained the steps the district is taking to reduce the impact of transport shortages: “Our first step was to implement the buddy system. In this system, a bus route is scattered among other routes, delaying the pick-up and / or drop-off times for students. Another step used was to consolidate one of our routes. We have reassigned students to other routes on a permanent basis. Finally, we were forced to cancel a few routes; However, our goal with itinerary cancellations is to communicate in advance so that we can seek parent transportation if possible. “
Pittser added, “Our parents have been phenomenal during this difficult time. When route cancellations had to be announced, our goal was to do so in advance in the hope that parents could transport if possible, and they did. About 70% of affected students went to school every day. Those who were unable to do so were given work and had electronic access with staff through email and google class. Moreover, the day was not counted of their presence. We are extremely grateful for this understanding and support from our parents and guardians. “
According to the T1 state report that the district performs each year, Daniels said it typically carries around 1,300 students. Although the number varies by grade level, the average number of students that can be transported by bus is 77.
“Being the fourth largest land district in Ohio, our buses cover a lot of ground. Every day we travel to Florida and back in mileage. We have a total of 29 bus lines and four van lines. It takes a lot of hands in the garage and behind the wheels to operate on a daily basis, and we will continue to do all we can to get the students to school. We appreciate everyone’s support, ”Daniels wrote.
Daniels explained that she has been in her job for 11 years and that transportation has never been so difficult before.
“In September, we posted a total of four drivers. So far we’ve hired two of the four and we’re still working on winning the other two, ”Daniels wrote. “Once we have them and a few of our current drivers return, we should be back to our normal capacity. However, when we look at the big picture on a national scale, we still need to keep an eye on things. “
Pittser explained, “The calls and contacts received from partners in our community have been manifold, and we are grateful to organizations willing to brainstorm with us and share the criteria for driver certification and recruitment. Last Friday, Dr Tom Bailey (Director of Schools for the City of Washington Court House) also contacted by phone to offer assistance where possible. Our districts are currently trying to work things out taking into account contractual obligations. In a neighborhood with our daily travel expectations, we greatly appreciate this collaboration and the support of all. “
Miami Trace begins fall vacation today – a day ahead of schedule. Today will henceforth be considered a “day of calamity”. The school board has approved up to five days of calamity to be used this school year before make-up time is needed. The students will not be in session today and Friday, which was already planned as a non-school day for the fall vacation.
“We hope the transportation service will return to normal capacity the week of October 18,” Pittser said.
Contact reporter Jennifer Woods at 740-313-0355.