The TSC bus driver shortage behind your kid’s new schedule
Plus, no more hammocks for a while at Purdue’s Academy Park. And the Tippecanoe County Health Department brings recommendations for getting through the baby formula shortage
Thanks this morning to sponsor Stuart & Branigin for support to help make this edition of the Based in Lafayette reporting project possible.
Tippecanoe School Corp. families are looking at a new, four-tier system for school start times in fall 2022, after a year when persistent bus driver shortages caused frequent delays – sometimes up to an hour – in students getting to class or getting home.
Notices went home to TSC parents late last week, announcing start times that range from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. and dismissal times that range from 2:20 p.m. to 4:10 p.m. across a district with more than 14,000 students – a Top 10 figure in the state – and 437 square miles, the second biggest district in Indiana.
“The fact is, we didn’t have enough bus drivers to cover our necessary routes,” Scott Hanback, TSC superintendent, said Friday. “So, something had to give.”
In last week’s letter, Hanback and Kirk Brooks, TSC’s transportation director, said the district has 99 drivers running routes that require at least 125. Hanback said drivers, in some situations, were running double and triple routes – leaving a school with one busload of kids, only to return later to get a second and third load – to get everyone home.
Hanback said four bus mechanics at TSC got their commercial driver’s licenses to help fill routes, as needed – what he called “an all hands on deck approach” with this year’s two-tier schedule. He said the district found smaller buses that didn’t require drivers to have CDLs to help where they could, too.
“Our drivers have done a fantastic job trying to get through this,” Hanback said. “But it just wasn’t enough. What we were doing just wasn’t sustainable.”
TSC spent part of this school year working with a consultant to come up with the logistics of running routes on time with the staffing TSC had.
Here’s how school schedules shake out, starting Aug. 16, 2022:
7:30 a.m.-2:20 p.m.: Harrison and McCutcheon high schools.
8:25 a.m.-3:05 p.m.: East Tipp Middle School/Hershey Elementary, Southwestern Middle School/Mintonye Elementary and Wainwright Middle School
8:50 a.m.-3:30 p.m.: Battle Ground Elementary/Battle Ground Intermediate, Cole Elementary, Dayton Elementary, Mayflower Mill Elementary, Wea Ridge Elementary and Wyandotte Elementary
9:30 a.m.-4:10 p.m.: Battle Ground Middle School, Burnett Creek Elementary, Klondike Middle School/Klondike Elementary, Wea Ridge Middle School and Woodland Elementary
“We empathize with families that will need to adjust and staff that will need to adjust,” Hanback said. “We felt we just couldn’t limp into another school year doing what we’d been doing.”
NO MORE HAMMOCKS NEAR PURDUE’S ACADEMY PARK ‘CLAPPING CIRCLE’ FOR A WHILE
A picture of the Lorax, a character Dr. Suess said “speaks for the trees,” was printed on a sheet of copier paper and taped to a post in Purdue’s Academy Park Sunday morning as a quiet protest after university crews took down trees last week in the circular gathering spot on campus.
According to Purdue, the Callery Pear trees that had become popular hammock spots for students were invasive and diseased. Crews started cutting them down last Monday. Stumps were all that were left by the end of the week along the raised, grassy berms that surround what’s known as the “clapping circle”, just north of the Purdue Memorial Union.
A Purdue release said new trees will be planted to offer “a healthy, diverse tree canopy that will be less susceptible to large-scale tree loss in the future.” The project is part of a plan aimed at planting 3,738 trees – a number reached by doubling the number in Purdue’s founding date of 1869 – by fiscal year 2025.
BABY FORMULA SHORTAGE, A FIRST SHIPMENT
The first Operation Fly Formula shipment of baby formula from Europe, an attempt to counter severe shortages in the United States, landed at the Indianapolis International Airport Sunday in the belly of a C-17 aircraft. For a look at how that that flight went, carrying enough formula to feed 9,000 babies and 18,000 toddlers for a week, Indianapolis Star reporter Shari Rudavsky provided this report from the airport Sunday.
Meanwhile, the Tippecanoe County Health Department released a series of warnings about some of the homemade replacements for infant formula, resources to find supplies and advice for parents and other caregivers about switching brands and other concerns during the time of shortage. Here’s the full release:
Thanks, again, to sponsor Stuart & Branigin for helping make this edition of the Based in Lafayette reporting project happen.
THANKS TO EVERYONE WHO SUBSCRIBED, ENCOURAGED AND DID WHAT IT TOOK TO MAKE THE FIRST YEAR OF THE BASED IN LAFAYETTE REPORTING PROJECT WORK.