Dayton Public says transportation issues improve; but more work to be done

Dayton Public Schools bus driver attendance and route coverage has improved since the beginning of the year, though it still needs to be better, the district’s transportation director told the school board last week.

About 80-85% of routes are covered daily, up from roughly a high 70% coverage previously, Craig Anderson said.

“Our personnel attendance is improving, but still nowhere near where we want to be,” Anderson said.

Anderson was hired in January after Dayton Public started the school year off without someone overseeing the department. He and David Lawrence, the district’s business manager, started around the same time.

Earlier this year, DPS started using weekly bonuses, worth the equivalent of one hour, for bus drivers who have perfect attendance – meaning those drivers arrive on time to both their morning and afternoon routes and work the full day.

The district also hired 10 more bus drivers and had five more come back from leave, Anderson said, leaving the district with 15 more drivers than at the beginning of the year. The district is still short 28 drivers, Anderson said. The district is working to hire more drivers but also focused on not losing their current drivers, he said.

However, the struggles that Dayton Public has had this year to get students to school could continue to haunt them. Last year, state lawmakers changed busing law to put harsher fines on districts who fail to get charter and parochial school students to school on time. DPS buses 2,933 charter and parochial school kids to school every day, and about 5,637 DPS kids, to 48 different schools including DPS, charter and parochial schools.

Lawrence said the total fine that the Ohio Department of Education has filed against DPS for not getting students to charter schools on time has increased to about $2 million. The fine would come out of the districts’ state refund for transportation.

This school year, Dayton Public Schools took over charter school busing from First Student to get kindergarten through eighth grade students to and from school and restarted using the RTA to bus high school students.

Public school districts across the state have struggled to get students to and from school on time this year, including Dayton and Columbus schools. Those districts have cited a lack of drivers and issues with schools scheduling start times inconveniently.

DPS is currently suing ODE to fight the fine in Franklin County court.

During the presentation Tuesday, Lawrence and Anderson showed renderings of a remodeled transportation building the district plans to work on over the summer. The district hasn’t said exactly how much that project is expected to cost.

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