Madison schools change hours, blame bus driver shortage

Published: Aug. 25, 2021 at 4:02 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 25, 2021 at 10:35 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - With just over a week to go before the first day of classes, the Madison Metropolitan School District is upending its schedule for some students, changing their start and dismissal times.

In a statement Wednesday, the district announced the changes, blaming a “unprecedented bus driver shortage.” According to spokesperson Tim LeMonds, 35 schools will see 15 to 20-minute changes in their start and end times. All others in the district will see up to a five-minute change.

Here is a full list of school start and end times.

Superintendent Carlton Jenkins told NBC15, “We said it wasn’t an option for our students not to be able to get to school, and we’re going to do everything. It’s going to be some disruptions, initially, but we’ll get used to the schedule and we really appreciate the way all of our staff stepped up and really wanted to make sure we had all of our children at school.”

The earliest dismissal times for affected schools will be Monday, with classes dismissing about an hour and half earlier for most schools. Some elementary schools will be getting out before 1 p.m. those days.

“I have a special needs child. He gets a solo ride based on his IEP,” Caviann Ramdeo-Williams, an MMSD parent, said. “Right now, we’re really not certain if things will be settled down, but I know the school district is working really hard to get it resolved.”

Acknowledging that the early dismissals could affect child care needs for some families, the district added it has reached out to community groups to provide in-school programming before and after schools. Each school will provide information for how those programs will work.

The district assured families that the change will be temporary, saying it is “aggressive(ly)” trying to recruit new drivers through its “MMSD Drive for Us” campaign. It is hoping to return to the standard schedule before the second semester begins. As new drivers are added, the district plans to prioritize the most affected schools.

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