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Update on Busing

Dear ICSD Community, 

We hope everyone is enjoying a happy, healthy start to the '22-'23 school year. As we near the end of September, we wanted to update our community regarding transportation. 

The start of the school year always brings its fair share of challenges as we all adjust to new routines. Our bus drivers have a steep learning curve, as they work to learn new routes and new faces. As is the case most years, many of our bus drivers are not only new to the district, but new to Ithaca, and are learning to navigate new roads and landscapes.  

Each year, we anticipate some lag time in pick-up and drop-off of our learners, and typically by the end of the first month of school, our buses are operating smoothly and on time. This school year has presented some additional challenges. Although we have more bus drivers on staff than we did last year, we are still hiring to fill several openings to adjust for the 400 additional students who are riding the bus this year. The district has 12 new bus drivers and 11 more in training, who we hope to have out on the road soon. In response to community feedback last year, we have also added seven additional bus routes that will ultimately help improve ride times.   
The ICSD currently employs 65 bus drivers to cover 63 bus routes, which unfortunately doesn’t account for inevitable absences; COVID and isolation protocols continue to remain a barrier to consistent staffing. We have been required to isolate 14 bus drivers since the start of school. 
We acknowledge the concerns and frustrations around busing and recognize the issue it creates regarding access to education. Although busing shortages are being felt across the state, as part of our three-year approach to academic and social-emotional learning, we are committed to improving these structures of support so that every learner in our district can thrive. We are currently working with the transportation company, Transfinder, to upgrade the routing software on our buses, as well as taking a critical look at our maps to optimize scheduling. We are also exploring other transportation solutions that include GPS tracking and navigation systems with Transfinder as well.  

We understand that despite our best efforts, our communication regarding transportation delays is not always timely and we apologize to our families who are experiencing challenges with children arriving and departing school on time. While we expect the delays to begin to ease over the next two weeks, we will work diligently to improve communication on transportation updates. 

If you know someone who is interested in becoming a school bus driver, please encourage them to apply. For more information, contact ICSD Transportation Manager, Elizabeth Fox at 607-274-2128. Additionally, please reach out to transportation with any questions at the same number 607-274-2128.   

Daniel Breiman
Administration Officer