The Journal Gazette
Wednesday, May 04, 2022 1:00 am

FWCS ponders changes in bus schedules

Options on the table amid driver shortages

ASHLEY SLOBODA | The Journal Gazette

Fort Wayne Community Schools is rethinking school schedules as it grapples with a shortage of bus drivers, Superintendent Mark Daniel said during an online update Tuesday.

“Everything's on the table,” he said of adjusting transportation plans to increase efficiency with fewer and fewer drivers.

Daniel addressed the topic in the final minutes of the hourlong Facebook Live event – the last of the academic year – after a viewer inquired about a possible schedule change for middle and high school in two years.

Daniel confirmed that school start times are under consideration. Other aspects, like student internships and after-school jobs, could affect decisions, he said.

“Those are all things being discussed,” Daniel said. “I know it's a controversial subject.”

Transportation delays have been common this year for FWCS, which has about 16,000 students eligible for transportation. Daniel didn't quantify the current shortage Monday, but the district reported 70 to 75 openings in November.

“That is a huge need of ours,” Daniel said, adding the district offers incentives including signing bonuses to attract drivers.

Renee Dawson, the district's new transportation director, will help navigate these challenges. She takes over for Frank Jackson, who has held that position since 2014.

Southwest Allen County Schools – which is experiencing housing growth – is also exploring transportation changes to increase efficiency.

Reducing traffic around Homestead High School is another goal, the SACS transportation director said last fall.

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