BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — A photo posted to social media this week shows several students sitting in the aisle of a Monroe County Community School’s bus.
Kelly Pitner, who posted the photo, has three kids in the district and had been hearing about crowded buses from her daughter for some time.
“My daughter had mentioned a few times throughout the course of the year that there were kids standing on her bus,” Pitner said.
Kelly said she didn’t think much of it until her daughter texted her the photo on Monday.
“I was appalled and I was so shocked that that was happening,” Pitner said. “I just thought if the bus was in an accident or if the bus starts smoking or if anything happens how is she going to get off the bus and how are the other kids going to get off the bus.”
Kelly posted the photo to Facebook where it received plenty of attention and lit a fire under some parents.
“We didn’t create this mess, you did,” Kirby Pugh said to the district’s school board on Tuesday.
Coincidentally, the Monroe County Community School Board addressed transportation issues at its Tuesday meeting. The district had formed a committee to address transportation issues that have been plaguing the district since the school year began.
“Our system is currently, and has potentially always been, designed to fail,” Adam Terwilliger said.
During a presentation, the district said it needs 140 drivers to be fully staffed. It has about 80.
Following a recommendation from the committee, the district voted to alter school start times to allow for a system that requires fewer drivers.
“I do think it’s forced some people to really take a hard look at what’s going on and hopefully you know some things will change,” Pitner said.
The Indiana State School Bus Drivers Association told us kids sitting in the aisle was not only dangerous but illegal. Troopers at the Indiana State Police post in Bloomington confirmed they have seen the photo and addressed it with the school district.
We wanted to ask the school district about the photo and the bus driver shortage. After not returning emails, we went to the district’s headquarters where a spokesperson told us they didn’t have time for our questions.
“I don’t want them on a bus where they’re trapped and can’t get out when it’s that crowded,” Pitner said.
The changes voted on by the school board will go into effect next school year.