Olathe aims to alter school arrival and dismissal times amid bus driver shortage, parents weigh in

FILE — The Olathe Public Schools wants to hear from families on how school bus transportation...
FILE — The Olathe Public Schools wants to hear from families on how school bus transportation could get better.(WITN)
Published: Sep. 7, 2023 at 5:19 PM CDT
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OLATHE, Kan. (KCTV) - Finding alternatives to get your children to school has been a challenge parents in many districts have been going through this year, but in Olathe, the school board wants to hear from families on how transportation could get better.

Several parents told KCTV5 they had to switch to car riding this year because options for busses were not offered.

When Krystyn Morgan first bought her new house in the Frontier Trail Middle School district, she thought they were far enough to be guaranteed a bus for her son.

But since she’s within 2.5 miles from the school, the district doesn’t have enough bus drivers for their neighborhood.

“I’ve had some conference calls come up and had to reschedule them or use a lunch hour to come pick him up each day,” Morgan told us while waiting for her son. “In order to make that happen, so it is a bit of an inconvenience with working.”

That’s because Olathe had to eliminate the pay-rider system this year to allocate bus drivers needed for students who lived further from campuses.

But it was a popular option people want back.

“It would help us out tremendously because those of us who live either too close or too far away a lot of us really depend on that,” Parker Lloyd said while picking his brother up. “With tight schedules with work and having to pick up our children.”

When visiting with leaders of the Olathe School District, they explained changes this year were just temporary fixes for the bus driver shortage. The school district stated there will be district school-level committees conducted by assistant superintendents at each level (early childhood/elementary, middle, and high) to receive feedback.

“Our ultimate goal is that we’d be able to identify a schedule for next year that would allow us to move to a three-tier system,” Olathe School District executive director of communications Becky Grubaugh said. “And within a three-tier system what we’re able to do is use our drivers more efficiently.

“A survey will be released in the fall and will need to be completed by its deadline, which will be sent out to our families directly to their email inboxes.”

Because each driver would need to pick up students along up to three bus routes in this new system. It could change what time some schools open and dismiss, which is why the district wants parents to partake in a survey to know what changes would be best for them.

“We’re going to ask a variety of questions we want their input on different scheduled options that are on the table but then also want to learn how they use our transportation system,” Grubaugh added. “If they’re car riders or bus riders just get a general overview of who our community is.”

Olathe School District leaders are starting discussions what those new arrival and dismissal times could be for next year if a three-tier bus system is adopted.

The Board of Education will vote on one schedule at the end of the semester during a regular Board of Education meeting, the school district stated.