Press Conference 8/15/22
Letter from Dr. Adams-
Dear Families and Staff,
I am writing to inform you about transportation challenges that will be part of the early school year for a limited number of SLPS schools. Six high schools and two elementary schools (listed below) will have bus service temporarily suspended as we continue what has been a summer-long process of getting enough bus drivers to meet our needs. If your child is impacted, you should have already received an email about this.
Despite our best efforts and those of our transportation partner Missouri Central, the company has been unable to hire, train and certify enough drivers to handle all students eligible for transportation in our District. Our transportation teams have been working around the clock to ensure coverage for as many students as possible, but we recognize time is running out.
We are asking for your help in getting through the first few weeks of school while we do all we can to soften the blow of what is clearly an inconvenience.
For elementary students at Betty Wheeler Junior Academy (Formerly CJA) and Mallinckrodt, weekly $75 gas cards will be available to each family. Eligibility for gas cards requires 100% attendance (perfect attendance) for each week the card is distributed. The amount is the same per family, no matter how many students are involved.
For high school students at Central Visual and Performing Arts (CVPA), Collegiate, Gateway STEM, Vashon, Roosevelt and Sumner, the District can provide Metro Transit passes or weekly $75 gas cards to each family impacted. (Again, perfect attendance is required if you choose a gas card.) We highly recommend the transit pass for high school students due to the greater flexibility.
We plan to speak directly with parents of elementary students at Betty Wheeler and Mallinckrodt to ensure transport in various ways. The reimbursements will be issued each Friday.
Parents had initially received an email of their routes and bus numbers but due to the necessary rerouting, those numbers will likely change even if the bus route does not. We advise parents to look for a new email that will confirm the new bus numbers.
Even with the eight schools temporarily off the schedule, SLPS will still need to maintain contracts with six 10-passenger transports and three cab companies. The majority (11,000) of our bus riders will ride the yellow buses, including all special education students. Some students will receive a combination of bus and alternative transport. This year we can assign students to a particular mode of transportation, providing stability that was lacking before. The transports and cabs will pick up and drop off students at their front doors and students and parents will recognize their drivers.
SLPS has a longtime practice of providing transportation to students one mile or more from their schools. Most importantly, we are committed to ensuring that all parents are integral to the process. Here is what is new this year:
- Call Center operated by Missouri Central and District transportation teams with support from District-based Student Support Services
- District staff are being trained on a new GPS system that is being piloted (three schools to start) to ensure tracking accuracy
- Parents will learn about an email option – a “Find my bus” feature that will provide information on routes and bus numbers
- The transportation bus icon on the District website will be updated regularly with new information and answers to questions.
We certainly hope that once we get more drivers trained, we will be able to return to a more normal transportation schedule. This is a challenging time, but we are working hard to address every issue. This is another obstacle, but it is one I know we can overcome together. Information will be available at SLPS.org/transportation.
Kelvin R. Adams, PhD
Saint Louis Public Schools