Late CISD school buses caused by more factors than meet the eye

February 22, 2016

With Coppell ISD’s reach growing larger by the year, the community is more dependent on school buses than ever before.


However, within the 2015-16 school year, CISD buses have gained notoriety among students, parents and faculty for their late arrival times and late pickup times.


“The time that is written on the bus schedule for pickup is 7:42 a.m.,” Coppell High School junior Devika Godbole said. “Most days, the bus comes between 7:50 a.m. and 8:05 a.m.”


Godbole, like many other CHS students rides bus number 21 from her Valley Ranch neighborhood. She has first period English with Zach Sherman, to which she often arrives late.


“The bus has practically never gotten to school before the first bell rings,” Godbole said. “I always have about a minute and a half to two minutes at most to get to class before the tardy bell has rung.”


Although she has never missed important information, she says the inconvenience of walking into class late is an annoyance to her and her peers.


“It’s really awkward to have to walk into class late almost every day, especially if Mr. Sherman has already started talking,” Godbole said. “My seat is on the other side of the classroom and it’s just disruptive.”


In addition to being dropped off to school late, Godbole has expressed concern that the bus pickup times are largely unregulated.


“Since the bus doesn’t come at a dependable time, you’re either standing outside waiting in the cold for who knows how long or sometimes, you could get to the bus stop at the same time the bus was there the day before and the bus will already be gone,” Godbole said.


Although there is discontent with the school bus system, CISD administration is working with its bus service, Dallas County Schools.


“We contract our student bus services through Dallas County Schools,” assistant superintendent Sid Grand said. “This is the same organization that supplies buses to Dallas ISD and several other area school districts.”


Coppell ISD’s use of DCS buses poses many positives to the district, namely the saving of the hundreds of thousands of dollars it would take for CISD to own and manage its own set of school buses.


“The main positive is that we save significant dollars by contracting with DCS,” Grant said. “The negative is that we lose some flexibility in choosing bus routes, and hiring our own drivers.”


According to Grant, the reason for the school buses running late recently has been a shortage of drivers for CISD routes.


“With the local economy doing so well, DCS and other bus companies are having difficulty hiring enough drivers to meet their needs,” Grant said. “Therefore, we have existing drivers running multiple routes, thereby, causing some buses to be late.”


Throughout the ordeal of solving this issue, it is common for students to place the blame for late school buses on what they consider to be the most reasonable target: the drivers.


“A lot of the blame is placed on bus drivers but it really isn’t their fault,” senior Surabi Rao said. “Our driver has to run a different route before she does my route.”


With the district facing a driver shortage, Rao’s driver is not the only one facing multiple routes every morning or evening.


Ashley Higdem has been driving CISD buses for almost five years and, like her colleagues, is being given more routes to drive.


“We started the school year off with not as many drivers, so we have to merge the routes,” Higdem said. “[Drivers] sometimes have to cover more than one route at a time. We try our best to get to each of the stops at their normal time but we have to fit in elementary school, middle school and high school routes.”


According to Higdem, CISD is “always” short on drivers at the start of the school year.


Because the start times of elementary, middle and high school are so close together, bus routes are shorter at CISD than they are at other districts. In pursuit of clocking in longer hours, many drivers would rather work for schools in Carrollton or Dallas ISD, districts that have longer bus routes.


“As of right now, I pick up kids for Valley Ranch [Elementary] and Town Center Elementary, then I drive to Austin Elementary and drop off a full load of kids,” Higdem said. “Then, I start my high school route. A lot of times I pick up my [normal] high school route and then another high school route afterwards when we have [a shortage of staff].”


Tensions on remaining drivers have increased because of employees becoming ill, being let go or retiring. Although the district tries to get substitute drivers to fill in for certain periods of time, route to driver ratios are still incredibly large.


“We have drivers that have to go back to the same elementary school twice to bring kids home,” Higdem said. “Even our mechanics are driving. Often times there will be no dispatcher in the office because every single person in the office is driving.”


Higdem recognizes the inconvenience of the late timings but wants students and parents to know that the drivers are doing the best they can in their situation.


“Our job is to safely transport students to and from school,” Higdem said. “It is frustrating for kids to have to wait at the bus stop for [extra time] but we really are trying our best. Getting [kids] to and from school safely is our only goal, even if it’s a few minutes later than what they’re expecting.”


With parents and administration maintaining contact with the bus provider, the process of solving this problem is well underway.


“We speak to DCS almost daily regarding various district-wide issues and needs,” Grant said. “Parents have [also] been communicating frequently with CISD and DCS regarding any late bus issues and DCS is working diligently to hire more drivers.”


While hiring more drivers may take Dallas County Schools some time, students have their own propositions as to temporary fixes.


“I would like to see teachers more aware of the situation,” Godbole said. “[Some teachers] don’t believe [we are late because of the busses].”

Leave a Comment

Comments (0)

All Coppell Student Media Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *