Some Muncie transportation issues resolved, others continue

A Muncie school bus. (WISH Photo)

MUNCIE, Ind. (WISH) – School is back in session in Muncie after the district canceled the second and third days of class last week as they worked to address major transportation issues.

Parents told 24-Hour News 8 last week that several buses were an hour or more late, while others never even showed.

After four days off to work on routes and address these issues, many parents say the second day of school was much better. Not every issue was taken care of, though, and some parents of children with special needs say more work needs to be done.

“My daughter was sitting on the couch looking out the window, looking for the bus… and the bus never came, never came, never came,” Cheryl Grice said.

She said it is the same problem they experienced on the first day of school last Wednesday. On Monday morning the bus was more than an hour late, causing Grice’s daughter to miss first period at Muncie Central High School.

She was not the only parent who said they were frustrated.

“He has always taken the bus since he has been in preschool, but I don’t know about this year,” Olivia Brown said.

Brown’s son has special needs and she said right now she’s not even comfortable putting him on the bus if it did show on time.

“Until I know that they know their routes, that they know where the kids on their routes are supposed to go, my son is not going to ride the bus,” Brown said .

The district released this statement:

Muncie Schools’ Continues to Assess Transportation

Michael LaRocco, IDOE Director of School Transportation spent the day in Muncie observing the procedures and processes in place. Mr. LaRocco stated that, “I would see today as a normal start to a school year considering all the changes that have taken place. Not perfect, but the kids arrived at school and back home safely.”

District spokesperson Ana Pichardo said, “We are hopeful many of the issues from last week have been resolved, but we will continue to revise and improve the transportation routes on a daily basis for the next couple of weeks.”

MCS administrators and transportation employees worked both days the district was closed last week and over the weekend to address the issues that plagued transportation the first day of school last Wednesday.

Glitches are a normal part of the start of school for any school district, which the MCS website addresses in the following statement on the website Transportation page:

“During the first two weeks, we ask for your patience as drivers are learning their roadways, their times, learning their students/families, and traffic patterns. In the afternoon, it takes longer the first two weeks as schools are learning which students ride which buses. It takes about two weeks for your child’s driver to be acclimated with their route. We ask for your patience during the first few weeks.”

“There are many working parts that have to synch up in a normal year,” Pichardo said. “This year, with a new company, we expected busing to be a greater challenge at the start. We are committed to working together on any remaining concerns after today, so that families can be confident their children will be safely transported to and from school.”

Parents are encouraged to check the MCS website Transportation page for updates and information.

Parents said they hope the issues are figured out soon as this can cause additional problems for children on the autism spectrum.

“Having a routine is a vital part of their day so when this routine is disrupted it causes disruptive behavior both at school and at home,” Grice said.

24-Hour News 8 went to the bus garage for answers. A manager with Auxilio, the company that runs Muncie’s buses, said he would not comment on the issues. However, he did say his employees have done a lot of work the past few days and major improvements have been made. He said he plans to hold a press conference Tuesday to address work that’s being done to resolve these issues.

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