A shortage of bus drivers appears to be the No. 1 issue vexing yeshiva parents in the Lawrence School District. The Lawrence District 15 Residents Facebook page was besieged by more than 200 comments and complaints on transportation issues.
Typical of the postings was this one by Bracha Barak Schwarz: “My 3 girls start at 8:45, my bus card says 8:39. Not one day has it shown up at that time. One day it never showed up and the other days it was after 9!!”
Adina and Shmuely Selmar posted: “It’s horrible! My son gets picked up at 7:05! Problem is the bus company pays too little attention and they can’t get drivers so they overwork [the] ones they have with extra routes, which means some kids are getting picked up way too early and others way too late. My son gets to school before it even starts, so no one [is] there to supervise him. It’s not okay!”
“My daughter’s bus goes to Brooklyn first, then to Atlantic Beach, then starts the route for the rest of the kids at 9:10,” Pinny Faska posted. “School starts at 9. No one at the bus company cares and no one from the transportation office responds. I have a similar issue with my other [kid’s] bus as well.”
Nearly all of the comments expressed similar sentiments.
The district’s assistant superintendent for operations, Jeremy Feder, who is also the transportation supervisor, acknowledged that there have been problems. He chalked them up to working out the first-week kinks in the system.
“This is not a systemic issue,” Feder said. “This is an inevitability of a first week of school for most districts. It takes extra time in the beginning for students, drivers and schools. Our district transports almost 6,000 to approximately 180 schools with 700 bus routes. The district has two online forms for parents to utilize to convey concerns or bus stop changes. The parents were notified on the app, it’s on the Lawrence website, and many were emailed.”
Feder said, “The district recognizes that there is a driver shortage locally, in the country and statewide. Until routes are run regularly, it is hard to determine which ones can loop together effectively.”
To report transportation concerns or problems, go to lawrence.org and look for Welcome Back to School-Transportation on the left side of the homepage.