OMAHA, Nebraska – IAs the new school year began, several parents and their children endured a difficult week. There have been problems with the school bus service in Omaha.
“We’ve added four new schools, so our student assignment plan is changed dramatically, families going to different schools, bus stops changing so bus routes are running different, so we’re still stabilizing routes.”
There are already concerns about getting our children to school on time in this new school year.
The beginning has been difficult for Elisha Muhleka and her family. Student Transportation of America, contracted by Omaha Public Schools, sent her a letter last week instructing her two sons on where and when to board a bus.
There is nonetheless a problem.
“We don’t actually have a driver assigned to our route,” said Muhleka.
Thus, her children waited for a bus that never arrived.
Just a few days into the new school year, OPS parents are reporting concerns with their children’s pickup by school buses.
On other occasions, they were not provided a ride home, and Elisha was required to leave work to pick them up. Then, her fourth-grader shared some disturbing news with her.
“This morning he was already saying which I feel so bad, he was already saying that he doesn’t want to go to school because he doesn’t want to deal with this. I’m actually planning on trying to get out of work a little early to go grab him just so he doesn’t have to deal with it Friday afternoon,” said Muhleka.
“It’s frustrating and we understand that and we do apologize for that because we don’t want it to be frustrating for them. We’re a bit disappointed in STA and the services they provide initially they led us to believe that they were probably more ready than they are,” said Charles Wakefield, OPS chief operations officer.
Elisha reports that other children in her area are also unable to ride the school bus. She attempted to obtain responses from STA and OPS but claims she is not receiving any.
“I guess I’m just hoping to hear from somebody knowing that if there’s going to be a fix otherwise I’ll probably have to look into the before and after school programs so we don’t have to miss work. Probably just have to make alternate arrangements,” said Muhleka.
STA is contracted to provide 230 school buses by OPS. Both OPS and STA are seeking additional bus drivers, and both are giving signing bonuses.
Moreover, pupils are not counted as tardy if they are late due to a transportation problem.