RCSD ‘considering all options’ as district deals with ‘significant’ bus driver shortage

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — The Rochester City School District said Thursday it is considering all options when it comes to getting kids to and from school as the district deals with what it says is a "significant" shortage of bus drivers.

The RCSD addressed the current situation in a letter to the media. News10NBC has learned a robocall went out to parents Thursday morning.

According to the district, First Student and Monroe Transportation, both partners with the RCSD, are down roughly 70 drivers needed to fulfill all its routes. The district already enacted its emergency transportation plan earlier in August which made changes to several schools’ dismissal times.

Driver shortages have continued to plague other districts across our area and the country. School leaders are meeting with various groups to share other options and say the district will share what decision it makes as soon as possible.

Read the letter from the district to families in its entirety below:

"The Rochester City School District is experiencing a significant shortage of bus drivers with our providers, First Student and Monroe Transportation. As a result, there are not enough drivers to transport our students to and from school. Presently, there are 70 drivers needed to fulfill all RCSD routes. In an effort to mitigate this issue, the District changed start and dismissal times at many of our elementary schools. Because of the continued resignation of drivers, this has been an ever-changing issue and we are at a critical point with the first day of school rapidly approaching. The District leadership team has been working tirelessly to reach a solution that will ensure high quality education for all of our scholars.

At this juncture, all options are being considered with the understanding that this shortage may continue to impact transporting our students. We are meeting with various stakeholder groups today to share these options and will share the determination as soon as possible.

The Rochester City School District transports 31,000 students in public, private and parochial, charter, urban/suburban, and outside special education agencies in more than 110 different locations. The bus driver shortage is a national crisis, which is specifically affecting our community."

School Board President Van White issued the following statement on the shortage:

“With 31,000 students in public, private and parochial, charter, urban/suburban, and outside special education agencies in more than 110 different locations, it will not be easy to devise a transportation plan with these kinds of shortages.

Ironically, the solution to this national crisis will be local, and will require that we work together collaboratively and creatively to come up with solutions to this most urgent crisis. I am pleased to report that the Superintendent, my colleagues and I are receiving countless calls, emails, and texts, from across this community, from citizens who have very specific ideas in terms of how we might respond to this shortage.

The Superintendent and her team are reviewing these ideas; developing ideas of their own; sharing them with various stakeholders; and then determining what course of action best serves our schools, students, and families. Superintendent Myers-Small’s intention is to advance a plan of action (in a public meeting), in the very near future, for the full BOE to review and so that families can make timely decisions in advance of the start of this school year.

The Board of Education thanks you for your support and patience as we rise, as one community, to face this important community challenge.”

The Rochester Board of Education will hold an emergency special meeting Friday at 12:30 p.m. in Conference Room 3A/B to discuss the transportation issues. Public attendance will be limited to 20 people, on a first-come, first-serve basis. There will be no opportunity for public comment, according to district officials.

Friday’s meeting will adhere to COVID-19 health and safety protocols, and mask-wearing will be enforced. Those wishing to attend in person must check-in for screening with security at the front desk. The meeting will also be available via the RCSD’s Facebook and YouTube pages, and on the district’s website at www.rcsdk12.org/rcsdtv.