The Anchorage School District will have full bus service starting Monday, Dec. 5, for the first time this school year.
The district has had rotating bus service for months due to an ongoing bus driver shortage. But with the help of a consultant, the district said it will now combine routes and fit more students on each bus.
Rob Holland, the district’s chief operating officer, said that allows the district to eliminate 24 routes.
“We used to need 228 drivers, and now we need 204 for full service,” he said.
Holland said drop-off times, pick-up times, and route numbers might change for some students. Updated information will be in parents’ online accounts on Parent Connect starting Dec. 1.
“Your child may need to be at the bus stop 10, 20 minutes earlier than before or 10, 20 minutes later,” Holland said.
For now, these changes will only apply to general education students. Holland said the district will work in the coming months to analyze special ed transportation, and see which students might benefit from traveling to school with their general education peers.
School start and end times aren’t changing, but Holland said administrators and the school board will discuss that possibility in January. If start times change, even more bus drivers could become available. At that point, the district might be able to offer bus transportation to students at charter schools who need it most.
Holland said he’s hopeful that the new contract signed with the bus drivers union will help retain the nearly 70 drivers that have been hired since the start of the school year.