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Parents in West Seneca schools learn of student bus routes a day before school starts

WEST SENECA N.Y. (WIVB) — Many kids across Western New York are heading back to the classroom tomorrow for the first day of school, and districts expect the first day back will come with a few bumps in the road.

Heidi Wilson is a parent in the West Seneca school district, and up until Labor Day, she had no clue what her son’s bus schedule would look like.

“Just makes it frustrating because It is a great district, I think they go above and beyond, but this bus thing is a nightmare,” she told News 4. “I have to make sure my household runs, I mean I know roughly what time he’ll get on the bus, but he is a small child so I can’t send him out there alone and wait and wonder. So it’s a bit frustrating because if they don’t know, then I don’t know and I can’t plan.”

According to the West Seneca School District’s Facebook page, bus assignments were brought to the post office in bulk on Tuesday of last week, but many of them were never mailed out.

The district posted again over the weekend, letting parents know the IT department posted the bus schedule online, and for parents to call if they need additional help.

Michael Cornell, who’s the president of the Erie-Niagara School Superintendents Association says districts across WNY have been dealing with a number of busing issues, including a nationwide bus driver shortage.

“Every single year you’ve got bus drivers who are new to a route, you’ve got people who are new to driving a bus. and you’re going to have late late arrivals either to pick your child up or the child may be a little late getting home,” he said. “Those are fairly normal occurrences at the beginning of any school year.”

He’s asking parents to be patient and to reach out to their child’s school, the principal or guidance counselor with any questions.

“These challenges that we have in September of 2022 are challenges we’ve always had. The scope is a little bit different, depending on the district, but the reality of it is we’ve gotten very very good over decades of dealing with these problems,” Cornell said. “What you’re seeing is districts find ways to deal with them, whether its the city of Buffalo paying folks to drive their own children to school, which is a practice that’s been in place for decades we’re just seeing it utilized more often.”

Several parents off camera also reached out to News 4 saying the lack of communication has been stressful, especially with the timeline of everything. They add that they are thankful school staff was available on a holiday to help parents figure this out before tomorrow.

“In this age where everything is digital, down to my child’s locker combination, which is entered into PowerSchool, how is bus information overlooked? On Saturday, the superintendent should have proactively released more than an apology and a half hour window to send our children out side for the district schools only. This left many parents of private, parochial, and special needs students still clueless and scrambling Monday. The lack of communication is what is frustrating. Thankfully, due to the district workers giving up their holidays, information has been given out in time for school to start tomorrow,” one parent wrote to News 4.

Another parent said, “We actually called the bus garage and it turns out their online information is incorrect and we have the correct buses in place. So the mix up is somehow related to how it was entered into the PowerSchool from their IT department.”

Wilson was able to figure out her child’s bus times but says this whole process was frustrating and tomorrow plans on driving her son to school until the bus routes are smoothed out.

“I have a feeling it’s going to be crazy, with people not knowing what times, being late to the bus stop, missing the bus,” she said. “So I think for tomorrow I’m going to drive him to school, and just not even worry about the bus.”

Sarah Minkewicz is an Emmy-nominated reporter from Buffalo, N.Y. who has been part of the News 4 team since 2019. See more of her work here and follow her on Twitter.

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