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Parents frustrated over school bus overcrowding in Bloomington

Monroe County Community School Corporation
Posted at 6:57 PM, May 02, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-03 07:29:20-04

BLOOMINGTON — Frustrations are boiling over for parents when it comes to school bus transportation in Monroe County.

A photo posted to Facebook last Monday is catching the attention of families.

“Oh, the buses are overcrowded," Kelly Pitner said. "I think people don’t really think about what that looks like but I think the picture gives a really clear image."

She posted a photo to Facebook from her daughter. It shows just feet in front of her, fellow students were sitting in the aisle on her school bus because there were no more seats.

CREDIT: Kelly Pitner

“I was just envisioning those kids even trying to quickly try to get out of the aisle and their backpacks getting stuck or getting tripped on,” Pitner said.

Safety is the Bloomington mother’s main concern after seeing the photo. Since seeing the picture, Pitner has driven her three kids — all enrolled in the Monroe County Community School Corporation — to and from school several times.

“These are things that should not be happening and they’re all too regular for people in our school district," Katie Bishop said. "And it’s really kind of unreal that we’re dealing with this."

Pitner’s post sparked conversation among fellow parents in the district like Bishop.

Bishop said overcrowding is an issue her three kids also dealt with on the bus all year.

The Monroe County Community School Corporation released the following statement after WRTV requested comment in regard to the photo:

“On April 25, due to bus driver shortages, students were split up and assigned to two different buses. Some students boarded the wrong bus, exceeding the capacity of 52 students. The bus the students were supposed to board had empty seats that would have accommodated the ridership. The bus driver was unaware that there were students seated on the floor. We have reviewed our protocols with all our drivers to ensure that our buses do not operate exceeding capacity with students standing or students on the floor.”
Monroe County Community School Corporation

According to both Bishop and Pitner, overcrowding on school buses is just one problem on a long list of issues.

Last Tuesday, during a school board meeting, the district said it currently has 80 drivers but needs 140 to operate at full capacity.

“Our system is currently, and potentially has always been, designed to fail at our current staffing levels,” Adam Terwilliger, Director of Information Technology and Assistant Director of Business Operations for the district said.

The board voted to approve changes to school start and stop times to help offset the driver shortage. The recommendations came from a committee tasked with resolving the district’s transportation issues.

Indiana State Police tells WRTV it is aware of the photo and its Commercial Motor Vehicle division is working with the Monroe County Community School Corporation to fix the issue.