The Transportation Situation

If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you may have seen my frequent complaints about the buses for our elementary school. We’re a few weeks into the school year now, so you’d think that any issues with transportation would have been smoothed out by now, right? Ha.

I completely gave up on the afternoon bus after it was clear that they were never going to make it to our house in under an hour and a half, and usually longer than that. Driving an hour round-trip is inconvenient for me, but I’m finding it makes for much happier little girls. And they are usually home, have eaten a snack and finished homework before the bus would have even been at our door.

The morning bus is still a problem, though. I can count on one hand the number of times it’s been here on time (within 5-10 minutes of scheduled time) in the past 3.5 weeks and still have fingers available.

There are two big problems with the morning bus being late. First, we have to wait forever at the door for the bus. Two kids waiting at the door for 5-10 minutes are a little rowdy. Two kids waiting at the door for over 20 minutes start to get into trouble quickly. And since I have to walk them out to the bus, it means I can’t get much done until it shows up, either.

The bigger issue is with Cordy, though. With the bus getting here late, it turns out it was arriving late to school, too. And Cordy, who is Type-A to the extreme with her autism, really does not like being late.

We didn’t know anything about this until her special-needs support teacher emailed us last Wednesday to report that Cordy had a meltdown at school that day. The bus arrived late to school, which immediately threw her off. She was anxious that she would have a “black mark” on her record for being late, and even though everyone reassured her that she wasn’t responsible, she still believed she was in trouble.

Then later in the day, her class was lined up for recess and her second grade teacher had to talk loudly (“yell”) so that her class could hear her over the chatter and the three fans trying to keep the classroom cool. She was trying to get the attention of the whole class, but Cordy was convinced the teacher was yelling at her for being late that day. Cordy became upset, hiding under her desk and crying, and had to be taken to the special-needs classroom for a time out.

After she calmed down, she went back to her class, but needed an aide with her for the rest of the day. Since then she’s still anxious on days when the bus is late, and is still diving under her desk when the teacher gets too loud. Her teachers are very understanding, and the school has been doing everything possible to complain to transportation to get the issue corrected.

On Tuesday, we waited for the bus for nearly an hour. The last fifteen minutes of that time was spent on hold on the phone as I waited to speak to someone in transportation to find out where the bus might be. I finally gave up, packed the girls in the car and drove them to school, knowing that we would be late even with driving straight there. Cordy was anxious, but we talked the entire way there about how it wasn’t her fault and her teachers were just as upset with the bus for being late.

We got to school five minutes late. I walked in with her, met up with her teacher so Cordy understood that we were all in agreement that she wasn’t in trouble, and then I left. I later learned the bus arrived at 9:30am, half an hour after the school day started. WOW.

Angry emails to the district’s transportation department were sent. (Since it’s impossible to get to them by phone.) The school’s principal assured us she was also working on the problem from her side, too, and that our bus wasn’t the only one having troubles arriving on time.

And then yesterday? The bus was four minutes early! Good thing I opened the door ahead of time.

Problem solved? Too soon to tell, but I hope so.

It’s ridiculous that the transportation department can’t get buses to school on time. Beyond the anxiety issues it’s causing with Cordy, children arriving late to school affects the entire school. It’s distracting to the classrooms, and it’s stealing precious time from these kids that should be spent in education, not sitting on a late bus.

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  1. Rachael Heiner says:

    I don’t understand how this is acceptable… so weird. I hope it really is resolved.

  2. I’m with ya. This year our school district put out contracts for bid for each route (!) and that ended up with a contracter who only had 2routes the year before having 84 this year. The first week of school was much as you described it – buses running 90 min late, 60 min late, 30 min late. Within the first week they were forced to give back the majority of the routes to the former contracter. Since then, bus in AM on time, bus in PM not more than 15 min late. We can live with that. Hope yours resolves soon.