Muncie cancels school for 2nd day to review ‘transportation plans’

Muncie Community Schools Superintendent Steven Baule commented Aug. 2, 2017, before the district announced it was cancelling the second day of school to review "transportation plans." "It not like this was total chaos. The vast majority of kids got on our buses and got to school safely," he said. (WISH Photo)

UPDATE

Muncie Community Schools’ emergency manager has announced it will cancel for a second day Friday.

Steve Wittenauer from Administrator Assistance said it is possible school will reopen Monday over concerns about bus routes.

“The only assurance I can give you is they are working very hard to get these routes completed on time,” Wittenauer said.

He said the problems on the first day of school Wednesday were 10 times the normal that the district would face on a normal school year start.

If the district is not ready by Monday, they will let people know as soon as possible that school will be canceled again, Wittenauer said.

Wittenauer said he does not want to think about what will happen if the school district runs out of money in mid-September, but it’s possible the district would have to suspend classes.

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MUNCIE, Ind. (WISH) — Muncie Community Schools faced problems Wednesday with its bus service and, as a result, canceled the second day of the new year on Thursday.

The announcement came in a tweet at 7:22 p.m., although it was also communicated by text to parents and by Facebook.

The tweet read:

MCS will be CLOSED tomorrow,Thursday, August 3rd. We will review our transportation plans to ensure we are able to avoid the today’s issues

A statement from Ana Maria Pichardo, the district’s director of communications, said:

Muncie Community Schools will be CLOSED tomorrow,Thursday, August 3rd. The MCS staff, together with our transportation company and others, will review our transportation plans to ensure we are able to avoid the issues which were experienced today. Instructional staff will need not report. School year administrative and clerical staff will report at their normal times. Twelve month employees will report as usual. MCS sincerely apologizes for the inconvenience. An update on the status of bus routes will be provided at approximately 3:00 p.m. on Thursday.

The cancellation comes as the Muncie School Board prepares Thursday to host a public meeting to interview five finalists to serve on its board starting in 2018.

24-Hour News 8 spoke with parents in Muncie who said some buses ran an hour late — or didn’t show up Wednesday morning at all. The issues continued into the afternoon, when there was confusion over routes and stops. Parents also waited on late buses then as well. One mom said her son didn’t get dropped off until close to 6 p.m.

“I called the school, I called the bus company and they didn’t answer, so I’m in panic mode,” said Chelcy Wooten, a mother.

Some parents started an impromptu protest, urging the district to switch back to the transportation company they’ve used in years past. District leaders went with a new company this year as part of a deficit-reduction plan.

This all comes after the district had to be taken over by an emergency management team. The deficit-reduction plan was put together by Lafayette-based Administrator Assistance. The company won a bid last month to help fix the district’s financial crisis.

The district faces an $18 million deficit and Administrator Assistance said this week the district could run out of money by mid-September.

But back to the first day of the new school year.

Muncie Community Schools Superintendent Steven Baule commented Aug. 2, 2017, before the district announced it was cancelling the second day of school to review “transportation plans.” “It not like this was total chaos. The vast majority of kids got on our buses and got to school safely,” he said. (WISH Photo)

Superintendent Steven Baule said, “It not like this was total chaos. The vast majority of kids got on our buses and got to school safely.”

He said there were 20 students at Southside Middle School that got missed and were not picked up by buses.

It is unclear how many students were impacted by this in total.

Baule told 24-Hour News 8 that it is common to have transportation issues that need to be worked out when it comes to the first day of school and new bus routes.

Some parents say this issue should have already been worked out.

“This is my 7-year-old’s safety. There is not one day of error for that. That is not acceptable,” said Monda Self, another parent.

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