Starting Monday, a different group of students will be able to take a bus to school — at least for the next three weeks — as the Anchorage School District moves to its next round of bus service rotations.
The school district implemented rolling bus service suspensions in response to a driver shortage it’s continuing to grapple with. Before the school year began, the district split families into three groups broadly based on geography. Each group receives school bus service for three weeks before going without bus service for six weeks, on a rotating basis. That means the last group won’t be able to take a bus to school until October, when it’s scheduled to receive its first service of the year.
As of Friday, ASD was short 60 bus drivers but expected to approach full staffing later this fall. So far, the district has made some progress in hiring new drivers, and administrators said Friday that they’ll be able to staff more than 200 of the district’s 228 total bus routes in October.
There are currently 37 drivers in training, and an additional 12 drivers are set to start work Sept. 19, superintendent Jharrett Bryantt said in an interview. Additionally, members of the 673rd Logistics Readiness Squadron from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson will begin driving buses Monday, allowing four existing drivers to service other routes, he said.
The school district is also now able to provide bus service to 10,000 students, or about 3,000 more than they could serve at the start of the school year. The district has added back 13 routes so far, but that still leaves thousands of students without service.
Administrators are asking the public to avoid multiple areas as bus service shifts from one group of students to another. They said delays are expected around Bartlett High, Bettye Davis East High, Begich Middle School and Wendler Middle School in the morning and afternoon starting next week.