Pittsburgh Public Schools pushes back start date due to issues with driver shortages

PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh Public School leaders announced Tuesday that the district is pushing back the start date of school to Sept. 8.

District leaders are meeting to discuss their new back-to-school plan that board members will have to approve.

“Currently the district is short handed 426 drivers resulting in a seat gap for approximately 11,000 students,” Pittsburgh Public School Superintendent Dr. Anthony Hamlet explained.

That announcement from Dr. Hamlet is coming just a couple of weeks before Pittsburgh Public School students planned on going back to school.

“Expanding walk zones, increased use of port authority and proposed changes to school start and end times, will reduce the seat gap by more than half,” he said.

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District officials say it’s been a work in progress but it’s the first time students and parents are learning about it.

“We were kind of upset,” student Samaree Perkins said. “Because we were definitely expecting to come back especially after the long year that we had. We understand there is work going on behind the scenes to keep us safe, so we are accepting it and try to manage it day by day.”

“These are some difficult decisions we are going through right now based on our current state and current context we are in. It’s not ideal times,” explained Dr. Hamlet.

In addition to partnering with more transportation companies, the district’s transportation director says the port authority could help bus middle school students.

To reduce the seat gap by half, the district is considering these modifications:

  • Expanding the walk zone
  • Moving more students to use the Port Authority System
  • Changing the school start and end times

“I was not the biggest fan of online learning. I got though it. Managed my time but I definitely want to see my classmates. I want to be back and do the different activities. So yeah I’m definitely excited to come back,” explained Perkins.

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ABC Transit is just one of the many transportation companies that provides busing for the district. The VP of operations sent us this statement:

“ABC Transit is working daily toward fulfillment of routes for all schools we transport. We have done extensive recruiting the last few months As one of many contractors in Pittsburgh Public, ABC Transit is ready to cover all routes assigned to our company and will continue our efforts to increase our driver pool to take on additional routes. We are trying to heal from the effects the pandemic has had on the school bus industry, like most other contractors are.”