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Bussing woes expected to last several days for Appleton students

Published: Sep. 2, 2021 at 4:21 PM CDT
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FOX VALLEY, Wis. (WBAY) - The Appleton Area School District says it’s having problems bussing its students. The district sending several messages to families, apologizing for the disruptions, saying it’s working with Lamers, the district’s bus carrier, to work things out.

It’s not unusual to expect some bussing delays at the beginning of a new school year -- as students, school staff, and drivers get used to new routines. But, what some parents experienced was out of the ordinary with missed stops and long delays. And now, now Appleton schools say these delays could last for several days.

School may be open for the year, but not everyone is getting to class on time.

“The bus was supposed to come at 7:28. We were outside at 7:08 and I said hey, let me check my phone to make sure what time it is, it’s 7:08 - 7:52 no bus,” says Maria Bassi. The Appleton mom isn’t alone in her son’s school bus woes.

While some students were never picked up at their stops, to head to school, others were delayed at the end of the day, leading the Outagamie County 911 Center to receive at least ten missing person reports from parents concerned about their kids whereabouts.

Bassi adds, “It’s very frustrating and when you don’t know, just call and let us know, hey we’re backed up we’re going to be there tomorrow. No phone call, no nothing.”

The Appleton Area School District addressed the situation, in an email to families, letting them know if a child is late to school due to a struggle with bussing their attendance will be excused. It’s all part of steps being taken by the district and Lamers, its bus carrier, to fix the start of the year bussing problems.

“This was the biggest delay day we’ve ever had for the first day of school,” says Lamers terminal manager, Mike Weihing.

Lamers issues with some routes started with a computer glitch. According to Weihing, “Some of the kids, they had transportation at one time, but they got kicked off the route by our computer system and we’re working to get those kids added back on too.”

The bus company, like many other businesses, is dealing with a severe worker shortage. Office staff, who would have normally answered calls from parents -- wondering where their kids and buses are -- were out driving routes to try and fill voids.

“The biggest problem we’re having right now is, we just need more drivers and that will help us to be able to do things here in the office,” says Weihing. Adding, “It’s kind of a snowball effect.

Lamers says the delays, which happened in several districts and hit Appleton the hardest -- won’t be solved overnight. But, the company is hopeful things will be running more efficiently by next week. “We’re working on getting things up and better so that they delays start shortening. Like I said, for the next few days we’ll still have some delays out there, but we’re working through those,” says Weihing.

On Thursday afternoon, the Appleton School District acknowledged the issues could continue for a few days and asked parents to consider finding alternative transportation for their students until everything is worked out.

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