After canceling two days of classes to try to resolve widespread busing problems, the Muncie (Ind.) district has reopened its schools.
The Muncie Star Press reports that the district's new buses, which had been spotted over the weekend navigating practice routes through neighborhoods, were visible throughout the city and in front of schools Monday morning.
“The issues we had Wednesday with our transportation system were unacceptable,” Muncie Superintendent Steve Baule said in a statement on the district's web site, “and we are working diligently to make sure this situation is not repeated. The safety of our students is our top priority. The situation was unsafe and it is paramount that we correct those issues before we resume school.”
The district says many of the transportation problems resulted from a change in transportation providers. In making the change to a different bus company, Muncie has estimated it will save more than $1 million annually.
Auxilio, the new bus contractor, is based in Lansing, Mich. District officials say the company is unfamiliar with the area and received many incorrect routes. To make things worse, many drivers quit just days before school started.
The problems led Muncie to close schools on Thursday and Friday.
Reports Monday from parents on the bus service have been mixed— some say their children had been picked up on time, but others say that their children had been left waiting 30 or 40 minutes with no sign of a bus.
At Northside Middle School, where breakfast was scheduled to begin at 8:15 a.m., dozens of children were waiting outside for doors to open at 8 a.m.
At least three buses arrived at Northside with fewer than 10 students, and principal Eric Grim conceded that could be a sign that parents opted to drive their kids to school in larger numbers.
Still, Grim felt much better about the process Monday morning than last Wednesday and had high hopes that the process would continue to improve.
Muncie school officials announced Sunday that elementary students who ride the bus would be dismissed from school early each day this week.