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Parents share frustrations and workshop solutions to Cincinnati Schools' bus issues


"Right now it is a mess for the yellow bus," Cincinnati Public Schools parent Laura Pipitone said.

Pipitone was one of a little more than a dozen parents in the district who showed up to the first CPS community-wide transportation roundtable discussion. Like the other parents, Pipitone has experienced issues with yellow buses getting her kids to school on time for years and she wanted to be a part of the process to find solutions to one of the most pressing issues in the district.

During the Tuesday night roundtable, parents were invited to share issues they've been having and work directly with the administration to draw up short-term and long-term solutions.

Long-term, Cincinnati Public Schools Superintendent Iranetta Wright hadpreviously said the district would need to create its own fleet of yellow buses so that schools would be less dependent on transportation contractors who are facing staffing and supply shortages.

During the discussion, CPS Chief Operating Officer Chris Burkhardt says the district anticipates needing 118 additional buses by next year to adequately transport all of its students.

Getting that many buses and finding drivers to operate them will take time. According to CPS, it certainly won't happen before the end of this school year so they have to look for creative solutions to make up for the lack of resources in the meantime.

"One of the things that I heard tonight that I think has some merit is how do we get students to a rec center and from the rec center to school," said Burkhardt. "We're going to see where that might work. It's not going to be a one-size-fits-all solution, it's going to be a bunch of little solutions that come together."

The "Hub-and-spoke" model was the most heavily discussed solutions of the night. The model would essentially create transportation hubs at schools or community centers around Cincinnati where students would be picked up close to home and taken to a hub where they would then get on another bus that takes them to school. This would require fewer buses and drivers than the district's current model, but parents still had concerns about doing things this way.

"If implemented properly for older kids, I think it would work," Laura Pipitone said. "I'd be much more concerned with younger kids. I wouldn't want my eight-year-old depending on where the hub was let her go off like that without some sort of check-in system and making sure there's security."

While the night's roundtable discussion didn't resolve any of the immediate transportation problems CPS faces, Burkhardt says he thought the meeting was productive and thinks the district could arrive at more permanent solutions as these talks continue.

"This isn't going to be solved overnight. We know the challenges are not going to be done over this school year. We're going to have challenges for years to come, so how do we put all of these different solutions in place to solve our for years to come to make sure that students are getting to school on time?" Burkhardt said.

Cincinnati Public Schools will be hosting more transportation roundtables in the coming weeks. Discussions are open to all parents and community members. The full list of dates can be found on the CPS website.

Zack Carreon is Education reporter for WVXU, covering local school districts and higher education in the Tri-State area.