In Louisville, First Day of School Is 'Transportation Disaster'

Last Jefferson County Public Schools students were dropped off at 9:58pm
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 10, 2023 11:35 AM CDT

For some students in Kentucky's biggest school district, the first day of school turned out to be the first night of school, too. Issues with school buses on Wednesday meant the final bus riders weren't dropped off until 9:58pm, said a rep for Jefferson County Public Schools—and school was canceled for Thursday and Friday as a result. Superintendent Marty Pollio blamed "significant traffic issues" in a noon press conference; a Wednesday night email apology cited "a brand new transportation plan." WHAS11 and WLKY report school start times and bus routes were changed as part of a plan the Louisville-area district worked on for months. Parents described buses that didn't stop at designated stops and loads of confusion.

The mom of one high schooler said that days ago, the district's bus finder app identified a stop 18 minutes from their home, but that no stop was listed by Wednesday morning. Per the district, some 65,000 students are bus riders. JCPS officials tell WHAS11 more than 4,800 bus stop requests were made during the last week of July; some parents tell the station they were told not to expect a reply until early September. In a Thursday morning video apology, Pollio called it a "transportation disaster."

"We have to get better. ... The massive change we are undertaking is extremely difficult, but in the end that can't be the excuse," he said, putting the blame not on bus drivers but on "me and my team." Pollio continued, "We will not have a repeat of what happened. And we will not be in school until I know we can get kids home safely." Pollio said all bus routes and stops will be reviewed, and that drivers will be paid extra to practice their new routes. (More Kentucky stories.)

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