WCSD is in a busing crisis. We can't get drivers to apply and have a hard time getting drivers to stay. This means our kids can't get to school in a consistent or smooth fashion. Remember the days of the corner bus stop? Those are quickly evaporating along with the allocated funds and underpaid transportation staff.
Results Aren't Equitable
The numbers from the missing bus week are in, and the impact of the 1st week of removed bus service is not equal throughout our schools. Our Area 2 (Hug HS Area) Title (low socio-economic) schools’ percentage of student population absent was far greater than our non-Title (higher socio-economic) schools. For instance, in Area 2 at Desert Skies Middles School, they saw absenteeism rates of 20.5% (average is 10%). Bennett Elementary School went from 7.6% to 15.4% in absenteeism during that time. As opposed to most of the schools in South Reno's Area 1, which saw an actual decline in absenteeism rates (outside of Incline Elementary School which saw a significant increase). For a district that is so concerned about equitable outcomes for our most vulnerable populations of students, these numbers don't lie. For lower income areas and for households where both parents work, the "no bus week" had a negative impact on student attendance.
No Competitive Wages = No Drivers
The comparison between what the District is paying our bus drivers in comparison with other comparable driving jobs is shocking and makes it much clearer why our bus drivers are leaving at a high rate and why we have a difficult time retaining drivers.
The WCSD Transportation Department Can't Figure it Out & Want to Use Taxpayer Dollars to Hire a Consultant.
The 4/12/22 Board Meeting presentation was closed with Kyle Kemper stating that, at the next board meeting, they would be presenting the board with the recommendation to hire a consultant to figure out the transportation problem. This is shocking and unacceptable! We have five high-level administrators who are employed by WCSD to figure this out. Emily Ellison, Chief Human Resources Officer, Pete Etchart, Chief Operations Officer, Joe Earnst, Chief Accountability Officer, Kyle Kemp, Accountability Coordinator, and Scott Lee, Transportation Director. Taking into consideration their combined education experience and salaries, you'd think they would be able to figure this out on their own. PAY A MORE COMPETITIVE SALARY! This team should be able to do their job and present the board with a viable solution to our current critical labor shortage problems without hiring a consultant to do the job for them.
Transportation Board Decisions for 2022/2023 School Year
The Board of Trustees accepts the new Level of Service for the Transportation Department that utilizes the 5-day/week 'hub system' for middle school and high school student transportation for the 2022-23 school year. This means parents will still need to drive their students to group pick up spots (like local elementary school). Not an ideal situation for families or for student safety.
The Board of Trustees directs the Superintendent to move forward with the Transportation Department options, including: continued routing optimization, elementary school reduction in bus stops, utilization of "combo positions", scheduled double runs, a weighted area rotation plan based on attendance and hardship data, school bell-time changes, and walk zone changes and to provide periodic updates to the Board of Trustees on these items.