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Education Board tackles busing issues with school year around the corner

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Just two weeks until the start of classes, and public school officials are working to address a range of concerns stemming from school facilities to bussing.

"Our magic number like I tell everybody else, to include the senators is 189 - you give me 189 busses and 189 drivers on a daily basis then everybody will be able to put their food on top of their desk and not worry about any students going home late," stated Department of Public Works bus operations superintendent Frank Taitano. He said despite that request, the department only has about 134 busses that will be running at the beginning of the school year.

That's an improvement from previous years when the agency only had around 110 busses to service the entire district, but still fifty short from the ideal number of busses.

Superintendent Jon Fernandez said, "So we've benefitted from new equipment and have had to hire more drivers, but they're not at the level Mr. Taitano has been asking for from the legislature, in terms of being able to support both the public and private school bussing."

Taitano explained that in addition to GDOE schools, DPW busses also service private and charter schools. Board vice Chair Maria Gutierrez and Untalan Middle School principal Agnes Guerrero raised concern over late pick-ups that plagued the school last year. "Is it gonna be the same again?" challenged Maria Gutierrez. "Late busses? Late pickup?"

Guerrero said, "I know you did come out and there was a correction and the busses weren't as late as before, however it's kind of inconsistent, we did have some busses that came later, 4:15, 4:30 and I know parents are inquiring about the bussing issues. So should I reassure them that this time around, now that we have additional busses, that will be corrected?"

Taitano said he will work to address the issue at Untalan, noting that the issue stems from busses servicing several middle schools ending at the same time. "We fixed one and we will fix it all. So if its Rios middle school or any other school then we will go out and look at it, even if we have to divert the busses, that's what we did at Untalan Middle School."

We should note that the bell schedule for this year will remain the same, and so bussing times are expected to be similar to last school year.

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