JCPS cancels morning school bus routes for third day in a row
Bus drivers say they're quitting because JCPS refuses to deal with student discipline problems -- but the district has another explanation.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- For the third day in a row, JCPS canceled bus routes Friday morning due to a critical bus driver shortage.
A total of seven bus routes were canceled district-wide today. Three of those canceled buses were coming to Breckinridge Metropolitan High, an alternative high school.
It's the 11th time this has happened in the 2016-17 school year.
JCPS Spokesperson Jennifer Breslin said, "This is part of a national trend that we're seeing where bus drivers are having a lot of opportunities as the economy improves, and some of them are looking to take those other opportunities."
The bus drivers' union says JCPS is 50-70 drivers short, which leads to the pinch when drivers quit or call out sick. It leaves hundreds of children scrambling for a ride to school.
But there's disagreement over what's driving people out of the seat.
"When you're called an 'M-fer' and anything and everything down the road -- stuff spit at you, thrown at you, or threatened by a parent at a child's at a bus stop because you wrote a disciplinary action against that child -- a lot of drivers say, 'I don't need this,' and they pack up and leave," said John Stovall, spokesperson for the drivers union Teamsters Local 783.
Breslin said, "We have made a lot of changes so that we are better tracking and addressing more quickly the issues that happen on the bus. So I think that is an issue that we've actually gotten a hold of."
Stovall contends, "It's almost like, if they ignore it, they think it will go away, but it will not. Drivers are fed up."
With the two sides miles apart, students like Nate Moore fall through the gap. The district pulls drivers from alternative school routes to fill other holes and students like Moore are given TARC passes.
"I got to catch the 4th Street, to Jimmy John's, then catch the 23 up there somewhere, and then it take me right here (to school)," he said.
The Breckinridge Metropolitan high student wasn't missed this time, but the school he attends often takes the hit.
And, if you're not here in time...
"You can lose out on a portion of your grade," Moore explained.
The now hiring drivers sign can always be seen on Crittenden Drive in front of the JCPS transportation headquarters. It boasts a starting pay of $16.58 an hour -- but it's still not good enough.
"We are constantly looking to fill those positions," Breslin said, adding that the district utilizes social media, job fairs and targeted advertising.
But for now, they're looking for a fix, with no solution in sight.
JCPS says 220 bus drivers have been absent in the last three days. The seven routes canceled today affected Breckinridge Metro, Minor Daniels Academy, Liberty High school, and Foster Elementary.
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