October 20, 2021 - Transportation Update
Dear AAPS Families,
We recognize the current environment of a labor shortage in transportation services continues to present challenges for our district in providing consistent transportation service and represents a burden for our students and families.
I apologize for this situation; we continue to work diligently to recruit, hire and train new drivers and to implement strategies to improve in this area of district service.
Currently, most of the 102 AAPS transportation routes serviced each morning and afternoon are staffed with drivers and running generally on-schedule, so we are making solid progress this Fall.
In the few route situations without drivers assigned, we continue to combine routes in order to provide service for all students. We have recently announced to families of three bus routes that will remain combined until a driver can be assigned. This will allow these families to be aware that on an ongoing basis their bus will be late and not have to rely on daily Schoolmessenger calls.
We have communicated expectations with the students/families impacted by the combined route strategy. As we are able to staff, these few remaining impacted routes will have priority for the assignment of drivers and will return to their regular schedule.
However, to clarify, this current plan involves Durham central staff members out driving each day, and also does not include an adequate team of substitute drivers.
Finally, we may still need to combine a few routes on a day-by-day basis depending on the daily driver absences, resulting in a ‘morning of’ interruption. These calls will go out in the early mornings to impacted families, and we will always notify families as early as we possibly can of any changes in the transportation plan for the day.
Continuous Improvement Steps We Are Taking
To enhance driver recruitment and retention efforts, we have aligned a more competitive wage scale for drivers and monitors. Durham offers medical, dental and pension benefits, as well as sign-on incentives. Please refer anyone you know who may be interested in applying to serve as a Durham bus driver in the AAPS to the Durham website, durhamschoolservices.com, and search Ann Arbor.
In addition, we are using a ‘combined route’ approach so as to continue to serve all students, and in order to settle into a rhythm where our impacted families will know what to expect each day, particularly as the season changes now to cooler weather.
In addition to adding staff and combining routes, we are also working on a plan to implement the use of some smaller vehicles for transportation in the AAPS; van service for routes that serve a smaller number of students will prove a longer term strategy to improve efficiency. We will share more information as this plan is implemented.
We will continue to share regular updates with our students and staff, parents and families and we will continue diligent continuous improvement work to implement short and long term solutions to these current transportation challenges. We are committed that in the AAPS, we will move beyond these current challenges, and will once again provide the high level of quality transportation service that we work, plan for, and expect each school day.
We want to thank all families who have shown patience, kindness and understanding in the face of tremendous inconvenience. We appreciate your continued patience as we partner to weather these staffing shortages. We would also like to applaud those bus drivers and bus monitors who work hard everyday to safely transport our students to and from school. They are frontline workers who are dedicated to our daily mission.
Jeanice K. Swift
Superintendent of Schools
Ann Arbor Public Schools