Some MN school districts run into busing problems

6:21 PM, Sep 7, 2012   |    comments
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ROBBINSDALE, Minn. - Parents at two schools in the Robbinsdale School District received an email memo on Thursday apologizing for problems with school buses on the opening day of classes on Tuesday. Buses on some routes were more than 30 minutes late in picking up children for the SEA and RSI school routes.

The memo stated "We understand the frustration that many of you felt for the lateness. A meeting was held today with the principals from both schools and the transportation department to discuss what changes could be made to alleviate this issue."

The memo explained changes that were made or will be made shortly. The District note added: "We fully expect that your student will arrive home in a more timely manner beginning today (Thursday) and that times will improve throughout the next week as these changes are implemented."

A number of parents were upset about what they considered a lack of communication from the District as the delays were occurring. The memo sought to assuage those concerns: "If you are one of the families whose children will be put on a different bus, you will receive both a phone call and a letter with new busing information."

Parents with busing problems were urged to call the transportation department at 763-504-8107.

Robbinsdale was one of a number of Minnesota districts with busing issues on the first day of school. Saint Paul experienced dramatic delays affecting 10% of their bus routes, according to School officials.

"Yesterday, (Tuesday) we had 36 routes in the morning that were 20 or more minutes late," said Michael Baumann, Associate Saint Paul Schools Superintendent. "There were some routes that were missed."

Baumann told reporters there were 3400 students directly impacted by the bus route problems. The last pick up was at 6:30pm from a 4pm let out (from school), according to Baumann.

In Plainview, Minnesota, some students were sent to the wrong buses, leaving parents wondering where their children were. The District acknowledged problems.

"I would love to say I believe they are hammered out," said Gary Kuphal, Plainview-Elgin-Millville Superintendent. "I cannot guarantee that, unfortunately, at this point."

All three districts use private contractors for all or part of their busing. Robbinsdale Communications Director Tia Clasen indicated that the district's busing issues on Tuesday "were not a result of contracting services." The District converted to contracting school buses this year.

Saint Paul has contracted for buses since the 1970's, but switched companies this year. Plainview Schools' contractor is in its second year of service to the district.

None of the affected districts indicated any interest in returning to buses owned by their districts. The change to private contractors resulted in "significant" savings, according to Chuck Corliss, Robbinsdale Transportation Director.

(Copyright 2012 by KARE. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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