Youngstown school bus problems persist


By Denise Dick

denise_dick@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

A shortage of city school bus drivers is contributing to students not being delivered home on time.

“It’s unacceptable,” said Krish Mohip, district chief executive officer.

But it’s a reality.

The shortage causes problems, particularly in the afternoon. Some students have had to wait for buses to transport them home from school.

“We’ll get the students home; we’re just running behind,” Mohip said.

“We’re aggressively looking,” the CEO said.

He asked Mayor John A. McNally about the possibility of using Western Reserve Transit Authority bus drivers to fill in the gaps. McNally said he planned to contact the agency today.

But James Ferraro, WRTA executive director, said his organization doesn’t have drivers to spare.

“We have three that are in training now,” he said. “We just hired three more.”

An Ohio Department of Education review of the city schools transportation department found incomplete driver and vehicle-maintenance records, nonexistent vehicle-repair records and no documentation of required bus-driver training.

All of the city’s drivers were decertified, requiring them to seek recertification including background checks.

Some of the drivers opted not to seek recertification, causing the shortage, the CEO said.

To start the school year, the district relied on Community Bus Service to deliver students to and from school.

Two parents at last week’s regular school board meeting complained of problems with their children’s school transportation.

One complained because his daughter, a Rayen Early College Middle School student, wasn’t picked up by a school bus the first two days of school.

The morning after the father addressed the school board, his daughter was picked up by a school bus.

Another parent worried about the location of children’s bus stops along busy streets and near certain businesses.

The woman is talking with school district officials, trying to resolve the issues.

There are about 45 routes throughout the school district. That number doesn’t include the routes for special-education students. Those students are transported by Community Bus Service, a private company that contracts with the school district.

There are 41 city school bus drivers.

The district is using all of its substitute bus drivers, but it still needs more drivers, Mohip said.

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