Dayton Public Schools buses are late, leave students waiting, charter school principal, parent say

DAYTON — Some buses to charter schools run by Dayton Public Schools have arrived two hours late and some students have been left waiting after classes end for the day during this first week of school, administrators and parents at Horizon Science Academy said Thursday.

District Superintendent Elizabeth Lolli, in a statement to News Center 7′s Mike Campbell, said the district will need more drivers in order to address charter school transportation concerns. The number of routes has to increase to fully resolve all concerns, she said, noting the district continuously hires new drivers to cover routes in the event that drivers need to use sick time.

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Meantime, frustration seems to be mounting for some parents at Horizon Science Academy elementary school and other charter schools, Horizon Principal Alyse Pennington told Campbell.

Pennington said she knows other charter schools are experiencing similar problems with bus transportation and has been told that DPS does receive the transportation money for her students.

“It’s beyond frustrating,” she said.

Kira Warren, a parent, said she called every day the first week of school. “They would say ‘you are caller 39, you are caller 42,’ " she said.

Warren said she finally left her name and number for a callback from the district’s transportation department, but never got a call. The troubles continue, she said Thursday, even after school Wednesday. Her son called her at 3:10 p.m. to say that no school bus showed and he was still outside, she said, “which means he was outside for 40 minutes.”

Warren said she doesn’t think the district’s transportation department can handle the load of having so many children and many different bell times.

Pennington said the last bus to Horizon Academy arrived at 10 a.m. -- school started at 8 a.m.

Pennington, who said her elementary school has been experiencing bus transportation troubles since her classes began Aug. 10, has reached out to Dayton Public Schools multiple times a day trying to find a solution.

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“At times, DPS transportation is so overwhelmed they are shutting their phone system down,” she said.

For a second consecutive day, Superintendent Lolli responded to concerns about the district’s bus service.

“As shared previously, it is not uncommon for there to be transportation issues during the first week of school,” she said in her statement. “As enrollment fluctuates and routes change, pick-up and drop-off locations and times may also need to be adjusted. Any concerns are typically smoothed out within two to three weeks.”

Between December 2021 and August 2022, seven meetings were held with non-public schools to discuss 2022-2023 transportation, Lolli said. In April, a meeting was held to specifically discuss the district’s plans to transport non-public students this year, rather than First Student. [The district’s contract with First Student was “mutually dissolved,” she said.]

Lolli said the district has been working closely with all non-public schools to prepare for this school year, and has also been striving to meet all state transportation requirements.

There are currently 96 routes and 107 active drivers, she said, but the district will need more in order to address charter school transportation concerns.

“The number of routes has to increase to fully resolve all concerns. The district continuously hires new drivers to cover routes in the event that drivers need to use sick time,” she said. “The district is currently working on a solution to charter school transportation concerns, which will begin as early as Monday for some schools.”

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