MMSD interim superintendent addresses school start, end time changes amid bus delays

The changes will be in effect for the remainder of the school year.
Published: Oct. 27, 2023 at 5:11 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - With the Madison school district announcing adjustments to school start and dismissal times across the district amid persistent bus delays, the interim superintendent explained Friday the reason for the changes.

In a prerecorded interview, Interim Superintendent Lisa Kvistad addressed the transportation issues.

“We know that we couldn’t continue to apologize to our community for late buses or buses that didn’t even show up,” Kvistad. “We also know that many families have experienced on time buses, so while many within our community haven’t personally experienced transportation challenges, others have.”

Kvistad said officials discussed potential solutions to the transportation issues during the Board of Education Operations Work Group meeting, seeing if it would be an option for middle school students to take Madison Metro buses instead of school buses. This idea was shut down because of potential barriers and inequities for students, such as needing to take multiple buses or bus route times not matching school start times.

The district also explored subcontracting other school bus companies to work some of the routes, noting the number of routes had already been consolidated to maximize current drivers’ roles.

“Late buses have been impacting our students’ learning time, as well as the ability of our teachers and staff to do their best work,” Kvistad said.

Starting Monday, NBC15 News repeatedly asked for an interview with district leadership. NBC15 reporters asked on multiple days, most recently as Friday morning. Following this most recent request, the district responded with an invitation to next week’s Board of Education meeting. NBC15 will have a reporter at Monday’s meeting.

Start and end times will be shifted for some elementary and middle schools starting on Monday, Nov. 6, MMSD announced Monday. It noted updated bus route information will be posted on Infinite Campus and the district’s website on Nov. 1. High schools are not affected by the changes.

The changes will be in effect for the remainder of the school year.

Bus delays have been an issue since the start of the school year for Madison families, with a spokesperson for new transportation provider First Student saying in September that such delays can happen “for a variety of reasons” and explained that they are more likely in the first few weeks of the new year. The spokesperson also pointed out at the time that it still had openings for bus drivers.

A month into the new school year, at the end of September, MMSD parents said bus delays were ongoing.

School start and dismissal times changing has happened in the district before over bus issues. In 2021, the district announced changes for dozens of schools due to an “unprecedented bus driver shortage.”

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