Anchorage parents concerned about ASD bus driver shortage

Anchorage parents concerned about ASD bus driver shortage
Published: Aug. 4, 2022 at 5:27 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Some parents of Anchorage School District students say they’d like to know sooner rather than later how their children will get to school this year.

That comes after the district alerted parents on Wednesday that a school bus driver shortage may cause temporary suspension of some bus routes, much like what happened last year. Joanne Sidney, who has a student in the district, said it’s a scene she’d rather not see repeated.

“I know lots of people who had busses that were no longer picking up kids,” she said. “And then they were trying to make busses so that they would accommodate more kids. And it was just a mess trying to get children even to elementary schools.”

At an Anchorage School Board meeting on Tuesday, new Superintendent Dr. Jharrett Bryantt said the district is down more than 70 drivers.

“We are preparing ourselves for the reality that we may need to streamline operations to minimize disruption. In other words, there’s a real possibility we won’t be fully staffed in these positions on the first day of school,” Bryantt told the board.

Bryantt said the hiring issue was at the “forefront” of their minds and more information would be forthcoming.

The fact that the district has yet to tell parents exactly what the plan is with school only two weeks away is a concern for some. Abigail Baltierrez has three students in the district, including two that are taking the bus this year. Baltierrez said she still has bad memories of the last school year.

“That was horrible,” she said. “My kid was left behind and like calling me at work, ‘mom the bus is not here.’ It’s pretty scary.”

Baltierrez said parents need to know what to expect for the coming year.

“I would like at least some notification beforehand so that we can prepare,” she said.

The district said computer issues have caused delays but it’s hoping to update the ASD website as soon as possible.

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