For many, the first day back wasn’t without its hiccups, though, as the Anchorage School District grapples with disruptions to school bus service for thousands of students.
A new contractor, Durham School Services, has a 10-year contract to handle transportation for the Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District starting this year.
Some are bracing for snarled traffic and parking lot mayhem on the first day of school Thursday, with more vehicles arriving during pick-up and drop-off at Anchorage schools due to bus service suspensions.
For parents who work or live far from school, the shortage means impossible, frustrating and expensive decisions.
Setting multi-year budgets in Alaska requires cash on hand, justices said
The “unexpected driver shortage” will require rolling bus route cancellations for the beginning of the school year, the school district said.
Due to a driver shortage, school bus service will be provided on a three-weeks-on, six-weeks-off basis. That means some students won’t have a chance to take the bus to school for another month and a half.
Help us report on the impacts of ASD school bus service disruption and what options families are pursuing.
The Anchorage School District is facing such a severe bus driver shortage that there are only enough drivers to serve 7,000 of the district’s 20,000 eligible bus riders at a time, officials said.
It was not immediately clear which routes would be impacted or how the district would decide where to pause services, if needed.
At Knik Cultural Charter School in Wasilla, students will learn traditional skills throughout the year — from berry picking in September to hunting on sea ice in March.
The school’s roughly 400 students will spend the year in different buildings after a new analysis raised concerns about seismic safety issues at Ursa Major Elementary.
Another session of federal mediation is scheduled this week, but there’s a chance the process could be further extended if the Alaska Labor Relations Agency is asked to weigh in.
While the repair timeline hasn’t been set, an Anchorage School District official said the district doesn’t want to disrupt families in the middle of the school year.
The opinion by Deputy Attorney General Cori Mills finds the use of public school funding allotments for “discrete services or materials,” such as private tutoring or an extracurricular activity, as likely constitutional.
“This will be a large logistical puzzle to piece together over the coming weeks,” the school district superintendent said in an email to parents.
The national teacher shortage, which pre-dates the pandemic, is uniquely felt in Alaska, which has historically relied on recruiting teachers from the Lower 48.
Officials investigating how students at a summer child-care program were served floor sealant instead of milk say the two products were not on the same pallet as first believed.
The superintendent says boxes containing large pouches of milk and boxes containing large pouches of floor sealant were delivered to the school on the same pallet.
The 6-1 vote came after about two hours of testimony, much of it in opposition to the new policy, from students and parents who reported bullying and discrimination.
Several students complained of burning sensations in their mouth and throats, and at least one child was treated at a hospital after the incident, the superintendent said.
Juneau School District officials say 12 children and two adults drank the sealant during the incident at Glacier Valley Elementary.
Michael Johnson is the longest-tenured member of Gov. Dunleavy’s cabinet, having been appointed by former Gov. Bill Walker and retained by Dunleavy.