Monroe County Community Schools dealing with bus issues, driver shortage

MONROE COUNTY, Ind. -- Another school district is facing a shortage of drivers and school bus scheduling issues. The Monroe County Community School Corporation started classes Wednesday with a critical shortage of drivers.

Parents told CBS4 their kids were hours late arriving to school. One dad said his child didn't get home until 6 p.m. after school.

Monroe County Community School Corporation (MCCSC) Transportation Director Nathan Oliver said those issues are not part of normal back to school delays.

For the first time, the district contracted the bus service company, Auxilio. It's the same company at the center of Muncie Community Schools' busing issues. Each district has separate contracts and agreements with the company and there are different locations throughout the state. Auxilio's parent company is located in Michigan.

MCCSC representatives said the district hired Auxilio because they provided the lowest bid for busing services.

Oliver said he was told at 11 p.m. Tuesday that Auxilio would only be providing 18 bus drivers for MCCSC. According to MCCSC officials, the contract with Auxilio states the bus services company is required to provide 42 drivers.

MCCSC filled some of the gaps using substitute drivers. They have 90 drivers in house that complete 70 routes. The remanding routes are contracted to companies like Auxilio. On Wednesday and Thursday, many drivers were forced to do double routes.

"I understand people are concerned, but we are still able to transport those students. Is it working the best way we want it to, no, but we still have the buses on the road. We have the routes covered and students are still getting to and from school," Oliver said.

MCCSC representatives said they are confident Auxilio will fulfill their contract obligations. When asked how long when they give the company to hire additional drivers, representatives said Auxilio is currently working on that and should have more on Monday. How many more drivers they will provide is not known. MCCSC provides their own routing for the bus schedules.

Bus driver shortages are not a new problem for MCCSC. Oliver said they are constantly hiring and looking for qualified drivers. The training and licensing program takes about four weeks to complete.

An app called "Here Comes the Bus" is available to parents, but was turned off Wednesday and Thursday because of inaccuracies. The app provides real-time information on where the bus is at a certain time. Parents will be notified when the app is back online.