PERRY TOWNSHIP — A new plan is in the works to cope with a bus driver shortage.
Perry Township Schools has offered signing bonuses and other incentives to hire drivers. Now, they're considering redistricting elementary schools.
WRTV's Amber Grigley was at a meeting Monday night, where parents had a chance to sound off on the plan.
"At this point, we are considering this transformational decision for our students, families, and communities at large to solve a personnel issue," said a parent at the meeting.
"Looking at different options that we could have to kind of fix our situation that we are in," said Chris Sampson, Associate Superintendent for Perry Township Schools.
It's an issue impacting school districts across the country. And Perry Township Schools is looking for its own solution.
"Very severe bus driver shortage. A fully staffed transportation department for drivers with us is about 140 drivers. We have 102, so we're down 38 drivers," said Sampson.
"We understand the complex problem at hand for our bus routes. We will not dismiss the incredibly hard hand of employment shortages that you all have been dealt," said a parent at the meeting.
Bus driver shortages have pushed the district to scramble and find a solution, which includes redistricting.
"We currently have 11 elementary schools. Two of the schools do not have attendance boundaries. They were the former Eddison schools that did not have boundaries, and 'people choice' to them. So, people from all over the district would be bussed to those schools. Reestablishing boundaries for those two schools, we in essence shrink the boundaries of the other nine schools," said Sampson.
But this is a plan some parents just can't get on board with.
“The entire country has been dealt that same hand. However, I will say that you are pulling that hand too quickly when other districts across the nation are not," said a parent at the meeting.
"We have been told that this falls on the shoulders of bus driver shortages. And if this is in fact the problem, are you sure that you engaged every opportunity to address this issue," said a parent at the meeting.
"Why adding more kids to an already stressful bus load keep our current drivers or attract new ones," said a parent at the meeting.
As parents voiced their frustrations. The little voices who will be impacted have something to say.
"I don't think it's fair that I have to change schools. I've only had one normal year at Jerimiah Gray. I want to have more experiences there," said a parent at the meeting.
"I would be very sad if I had to change schools. A lot of my friends at JGE will not be at my new one," said a parent at the meeting.
Next Monday, Dec. 12, the district will vote on moving this plan forward. Parents here hope their voices will go beyond this meeting and urge the district to reconsider its plans.
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