After a bus driver shortage and poor planning left Kentucky's first day of school ending for many in "disaster" (in which some children were still sitting on the school bus until just before 10:00pm), Jefferson County's superintendent has apologized to the district's 96,000 students. And now its schools will be closed for the next two days while the the state's largest school system tries to reorganize.
"I come to you today after making one of the most difficult — if not the most difficult — decisions of my superintendent career, and that was to cancel day 2 and day 3 of the school year. First and foremost, I want to take this opportunity to apologize for last night," said Superintendent Dr. Marty Pollio in a message posted to YouTube (see video below).
"I want to apologize to our students. I know many of you had to wait on buses or wait in your school for several hours, and I truly apologize for that," he continued, also apologizing to parents — some who, at times, weren't even sure where their children were during the transportation debacle —as well as the bus drivers and school personnel. He says after an exciting first day, "to have it end with the transportation disaster that we had last night was truly unacceptable. … We have to get better."
From AP News:
Kentucky's largest school system cancelled the second and third day of classes after a disastrous overhaul of the transportation system that left some children on buses until just before 10 p.m. on opening day.
District officials will spend the four days before Monday reviewing the routes and having drivers practice them, he said. The district that encompasses Louisville has 65,000 bus riders, according to its website.
The disaster came after major changes to school bus routes and school start times this year meant to alleviate a bus driver shortage, the Courier Journal reported. The district spent $199,000 to hire the AlphaRoute engineering firm to create a plan that would cut the number of bus routes and stops.
In pushing for the changes, Pollio said the district simply could not keep up with its current routes because of the driver shortage. Even after increasing pay and cutting routes, the district did not have enough drivers, and students continued to get to school late and leave school late all year long, he said.
The district opened an online comment form for the new bus routes on July 24 and received thousands of complaints from parents concerned that their children were having to walk too far to catch the bus or that bus stops were at at busy, unsafe intersections. District spokesperson Mark Hebert told the paper last week that they were continuing to review the parent requests for changes.
Front page thumbnail image: Superintendent Dr. Marty Pollio / Jefferson County Public Schools