Dear Portland Public Schools families and staff,
I am writing to let everyone know that – because of a shortage of school bus drivers – we may sometimes have to cancel one or more of our daily yellow school bus runs for our elementary and middle school students, or possibly adjust school start and end times so that buses can make double runs to serve all schools.
The labor shortage in Maine and across the country continues to impact the ability of school districts to hire a range of staff, including bus drivers. Unfortunately, we are experiencing turnover and also a high number of drivers out due to illness. We have already started a routine of bus cancellations similar to the one that we put in place last year. I have asked our Transportation Department to develop alternative scenarios. Those could include changing school start and end times in order to allow double runs to each school.
We already have had to cancel three routes this week. If we go forward with canceling buses, we would do so following the same procedures as last year.
We have developed a rotating schedule of which buses will be offline when a driver is out to minimize the impact on any one group of students and families. These are buses that transport mostly regular education students. As we did last year, we will continue to prioritize special education transportation to minimize disruption to those vulnerable students.
Families will receive robocall messages early in the morning if their child’s bus is canceled. Please make sure your child’s school has your updated contact information and check your messages on a regular basis.
We are again urging families to consider alternate ways, such as carpooling and joining in Walking School Bus groups, to get your students to and from school if their bus is offline for a day.
We also will be making free METRO rides available to middle and elementary school students who do not have other options. Here’s a guide for middle school students on how to ride METRO. Please note that elementary school students must be accompanied by an adult to ride on METRO. Here's a guide for elementary studentsemployment page and apply.
We know how important bus transportation is to our working families. Please know we are working as hard as we can to come up with the least disruptive solutions to this problem.
Thank you in advance for your patience and cooperation, and please know that we all share the same goal of having all our students in school and learning.
Xavier Botana, Superintendent