CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — A family in Champaign is looking to the school district and community members for answers to a problem that they said affects more than just getting students to school.
Champaign’s Unit 4 School District said they are struggling to hire drivers, like other districts across the country. There are even some transportation administrators getting behind the wheel. But some people believe the problem isn’t solely on the district, and that people in the community need to step up to help fill the gaps.
“Recently, my son had both his buses canceled in the morning,” said parent London Robinson.
He’s not alone. Parents like Robinson said they want to see more reliable transportation for students in the Champaign Unit 4 School District.
“Public transportation in the morning will take like two hours to even get to school,” Robinson said. “And since they’ve closed down some of the schools, it’s too many kids on the normal buses.”
Community members like daycare owner Vanessa McFarland said she understands how some of the parents may feel.
“The first day, children were not getting let off at their stop or, you know, you just didn’t know what was going on,” McFarland said.
Yet McFarland said she sees the efforts the district has been making.
“Any time you implement something new, you’re always going to have some kinks,” she said. “But I think, you know, now, after the children have been in school for about a month, they’re pretty much working the kinks out.”
Robinson said he’s fortunate enough that it isn’t much of a setback for him.
“I have a car. If I didn’t have a car, I don’t know what choice the kids would have,” Robinson said.
But he knows that it isn’t the case for everyone.
“Something as simple as not having a bus route in the morning, it’ll throw somebody’s whole life off,” Robinson said.
McFarland and Robinson said it’ll take more than the district working alone to solve this problem.
“Give them a little time and they’ll have all the kinks worked out,” McFarland said. “You know, they’re trying to better the situation.”
Solving the problem will take people who care about the students, more hires, and people looking to help lighten the load.
“Go out, apply for the bus barn. Jobs are there,” McFarland said. “You know what I’m saying? That’s how you fix something.”
The district approved a $2,500 sign-on bonus to help attract substitute bus drivers.