Families in Mansfield have been dealing with school bus delays as the school year began this week and some said their patience is getting thin.
The issues started on the first day of school and the superintendent decided to cancel classes Wednesday, which was the second day of school.
M&J Bus, which transports students in the school district, said four buses didn't run in the afternoon and as a result, some students had to wait at school until other buses became available.
Delays were anticipated to exceed an hour following dismissal.
M&J Bus pointed to the ongoing statewide bus driver shortage. Mansfield is down two bus drivers right now. With little ability to pull drivers from other districts, the bus company had to collapse some routes.
"The positive news is that we have a couple of drivers that have permits, that are in training, that we are hopeful are going to test in a few weeks," Jon Hipsher, chief operating officer of M&J Bus, said
Hipsher said his team communicated updated routes with the school district, which he described as a typical first week of school practice. He asked for patience from families as his team continues to update routes and improve times.
Parents responded to the issues they are facing.
“I wasn’t too comfortable sending him on a bus right away, but part of that is the whole disorganization a little bit. It makes me nervous,” Mackenzie Brule of Mansfield, said.
“It’s just ill-prepared. Makes no sense,” Kristina Napp, of Mansfield said.
“I have no confidence. My child’s not going to disappear for two hours and I don’t know where he is,” Napp added.
Some principals ended up driving some students home Thursday.
Dart said he anticipated bus delays Friday as well due to the bus driver shortage and encouraged families to pick up their children, if possible.
“I mean they’re asking us to drop our kids off instead of taking them on the bus, to bring them ourselves but it’s (the line) is all the way out to the street,” Napp said.
Super. Peter Dart expressed his concern during a board of education meeting.
“I think we have a better indication of what the problem is. We know that number one, staffing shortages of drivers is just nationwide. And, so we must be just nimble, flexible, and understanding when a driver is not in, the bus isn't moving. And so, we'll look creatively at how to mitigate that,” Dart said.
The community was informed Thursday night that the bus routes that were originally sent to families were incorrect.
Ultimately, parents just want answers
“I care about my kid being there and if you don’t know how my kid can be there, than the rest of it really doesn’t matter,” Napp said.