TUSD faces bus driver shortage and class size challenges

Posted at 10:17 PM, Mar 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-26 01:17:24-04

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — "Transportation is mission critical," said Superintendent Gabriel Trujillo.

Getting students to and from schools is by far the biggest issue facing TUSD.
Gabriel Trujillo says the district is down 70 drivers. That's more than double the usual count.

Wait times are longer for students.

He says parents have been patient," but that's not going to last very long. So we've we're going to be working in the coming weeks to take some immediate steps to try to shore up our transportation ranks," he said.

Drivers left for better paying or different jobs.

"A lot of our management and our supervisors are now driving. So you've got transportation managers have managers, everybody's driving," he said.

The district is now relying heavily on Sun Tran buses to pick up the slack.
And some routes are more challenging than others.

A huge percentage of students returned to some schools, like Borman, Fruchtendler, Erickson, Blenman, and Sam Hughes.

"Where 70% or more of the student body wanted back for in person. Some of them went as high as 90, like Borman," said Trujillo.

In those cases, schools have had to thin out the larger classrooms as much as they can -- by sending student to "libraries, multi purpose rooms and cafeterias when cafeterias are not in use. The outdoor a lot of the schools have been utilizing outdoors in to try to mitigate some of these larger crowds," said Trujillo.

When just few students showed up unannounced to a classroom that reached it's size limit, the schools uses a different strategy called combo classes.

"Where those three second grade students might be able to go into a first grade classroom, and still get access to live, teaching but that first grade classroom may have only 15 kids," he said, "So that's another strategy to try to get us through here, at least until the end of the year.>

Trujillo said he'll be discussing the most urgent issues, like transportation, with the board in the coming weeks.