COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Transportation issues continue to impact several students 10 weeks into the school year.
The principal at Summit Academy Middle School, which serves students with disabilities, said she is facing two busing issues. The school’s transportation is provided by Columbus City Schools and right now it is dealing with a major bus driver shortage. Of the school’s 63 students, about half need transportation.
“Right now, we’re in our tenth week of school and I still don’t have adequate busing for my students,” said Summit Academy principal Cheryl Elliott. “Just a small portion of them get a bus in the morning. They don’t get a bus home.”
Elliot took her concerns to the Columbus City School Board Tuesday night, sharing that some students have yet to receive bus assignments and that transportation is unreliable.
“Last night, I think it was 5:15, when the last child, when the bus, they finally sent a replacement bus and it was 5:15 because that child didn’t have a way home, so we had to wait until they got a bus,” she said.
A Columbus City Schools spokesperson said the district needs 124 drivers and is diligently looking for short-term solutions. The district is eyeing a one-year contract renewal — to the tune of $143,772.46 — with Versatrans, a transportation routing and planning software sold by Tyler Technologies.
“The cost to renew the existing contract for one year is $143,772.56,” the district spokesperson said. “It will end in November of 2023. The department hopes to begin using Versatrans alongside the current AlphaRoute software in the coming weeks, pending Board approval of the new contact.”
Elliott hopes for a solution soon, saying transportation is critical for families.
“That’s been a lot of my parents,” she said. “They just don’t have the money to do the transportation back and forth so it’s been a huge hardship on my families, but it’s also hurting my students academically.”
Right now, CCS has 523 drivers to cover nearly 650 routes, transporting nearly 39,000 students.
The district spokesperson said the district’s transportation department is also working with a vendor to improve notifications for delayed routes.