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    Transportation Update Sept. 18
    Posted on 09/18/2018
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    This is an update on transportation services contracted with First Student. Anytime there is a late bus, students, families and schools are impacted. We apologize for this disruption. Getting students safely to and from school on time is a top priority.

    In February, First Student and their drivers came to an agreement after an 8-day strike. This agreement was supposed to ensure sufficient bus drivers. Although First Student had sufficient drivers at the end of last school year, many drivers did not return this school year, and bus routes have been inconsistent since the start of school.

    Seattle Public Schools is a microcosm of our city. Finding great employees in a city with low unemployment and competitive wages has been tough for First Student. First Student has found filling the 411 positions they require to serve SPS challenging, and they have been 15 to 35 positions short since the start of school. When this happens, First Student “doubles up” on routes to make sure every route is run daily, but this means that some routes are significantly delayed.

    What are we doing to get your student to and from school on time?

    • First Student has been actively recruiting and training staff, however, they continue to have a high turnover rate. To reduce this, First Student has just agreed to a significant salary increase for beginning drivers. First Student said they have 46 drivers in training, and we should anticipate that all positions should be filled by early October.
    • Meanwhile, we continue to prioritize yellow bus service to Title 1 schools and for special education students.
    • The district has been continuously working with First Student to develop plans and supports to reduce the impact on families.
      • We have subcontracted with a Special Education transportation contractor
      • Provided more ORCA cards to students
      • Re-routed existing routes to reduce the total number of drivers needed
      • Convened a Transportation Force that includes transportation and school professionals, parents and community members
      • We also have provided additional funding for schools when buses are late and additional supervision is needed

    We will continue to keep you updated as more information is available. Please continue to check the transportation webpage for updates. We also are working to provide more timely communications to families and schools.

    Because this has not been resolved, we are asking families to make alternative plans in case your student’s bus is late. We realize this is difficult for some families and impacts their family schedule. We are continuing to work with First Student to resolve their service and staffing issue as soon as possible. Again, we are sorry for the inconvenience to families and the disruption to our students’ academic environment and learning.