HAMDEN, Conn. (WTNH) — It’s back to school for many students Monday, but many districts are hitting roadblocks. It’s not just a problem we’ve seen across Connecticut, but really nationwide.
The town of Hamden has been in constant communication with the bus company they work with all summer long.
The Chief Operating Officer for Hamden Public Schools Tom Ariola told News 8, “As of last week, we received a lukewarm letter that said there would be delays.”
They were preparing to start the school year with some delayed bus problems, but on Friday, that problem escalated.
“Though we knew drivers were down, we thought it would encompass delays not actual routes with no buses.”
Seven routes had to be canceled for the first day of school Monday because of the driver shortage. The cancellations affect 300 Hamden students:
- Route 4 Bear Path: Morning Only
- Route 19 Hamden High School, Hamden Middle School & Bear Path School: Morning and Afternoon
- Route 24 Hamden Middle School: Morning and Afternoon
- Route 34 Hamden High School and Hamden Middle School: Morning and Afternoon
- Route 34 West Woods School: Afternoon Only
- Route 48 Sacred Heart School, Saint Rita School: Morning and Afternoon
- Route 55 Hamden High School: Morning and Afternoon
- Route 67 Hamden Middle School and West Woods School: Afternoon Only
On Saturday, the district worked to contact parents letting them know about the shortage so they could plan.
Ariola said, “There’s nothing you can’t throw money at…There’s nothing that’s going to fix this other than adapting to it and making the best of what hand you’re dealt.”
In the contract with the bus company, they’re supposed to have about 82 bus drivers to cover the 66 routes across town. On Monday, they’ll be down to 59 drivers.
It’s not just a problem affecting the first week of the school year. Ariola said, “This is something that’s going to have to be constantly monitored day today through the whole year.”
On Monday, the shortage will also affect teachers and administrators.
“We have to let our administrators know let our teachers know that we have to adapt to kids being dropped off earlier and not being picked up until later.”
The district will be meeting with the bus company Monday afternoon to come up with a plan to improve the situation. Ariola said, for now, they need to monitor the ridership and make sure the busiest routes are up and running. He says a top concern was making sure the special education students are not affected.
The district’s message to parents is, “Stay patient with us. We’re not just going to sit back and let this happen.”