The Churchill County School District is rebounding from its Monday afternoon bus crisis.
On the first day of school, a new afternoon bus route that had been implemented to take students from their elementary school to a transfer point proved to be unsuccessful. Superintendent Dr. Sandra Sheldon said the concept of a central transfer point “failed miserably” due to a multitude of factors.
Because of the severity of the situation, Sheldon said concerns have been addressed and solutions have been found.
Sheldon said a meeting was held with all principals and Transportation Director Steve Russell to redesign the student pick-up process. She said students are no longer being taken to a transfer location (E.C. Best Elementary School). They will be picked up at their school by their afternoon route bus and delivered to their designated drop off. Students will also wait in their schools gym or cafeteria until the buses arrive to take them home.
Russell said the traffic pattern at Lahontan Elementary School has also been reconfigured to allow the traffic to flow better. He said safety personnel will direct traffic in the morning and afternoons until the kinks are worked out.
Sheldon said since Monday afternoon’s incident, busing has been going much better. She the problems that caused the mayhem on Monday are continuing to be ironed out and fixed.
“Wednesday afternoon all of the elementary, middle and high school students were picked up by 3:20 p.m.,” she said. “The flow will continue to get better and I expect things to be settled down by next week. We’ll tweak things as needed to improve the problem areas.”
Elementary students will also be held in their gyms or cafeterias until buses arrive to take them home. Sheldon said teachers will entertain the students with games, reading books or singing songs.
Because of the flawed concept, students were left standing outside on Monday for more than an hour in the high 90-degree heat. Once the buses arrived, things didn’t get any better according to parents. Upset parents went to social media to voice their anger with other parents who had students go through the same thing.
Some parents said their children were suffering from the effects of heat stroke, Banner Churchill Community Hospital reported that no children were brought into the emergency room for heat related issues.
Other parents complained, however, their children arrived home almost three hours after school dismissed and others reported their children missing to law enforcement.
Fallon Police Chief Kevin Gehman said 12-15 children were reported missing during Monday’s situation after receiving a call about a missing student. He said the scope of the situation was realized until officers arrived at the bus shed they encountered roughly 30 family members searching for missing students. He added some children were found on the wrong buses, while others were picked up by officers nowhere close to their drop-off zone.
A woman posted on the Fallon 411 Facebook site that she was frustrated about having to drop multiple children off in the district.
“The Churchill County school schedule this year sucks! There is no way for me to get from Numa to E.C. Best to Lahontan without someone being tardy!” she said. “That is unfair to my kids. It’s not their fault they’re tardy when I can’t start dropping them off til 7:50 and I have to get across town in school traffic!”
One mother said her daughter’s bus drove past her while she was waiting in her driveway for her daughter.
“I knew something was wrong when the bus that should have had my daughter on it drove past me and never stopped,” she said. “I tried to contact the bus shed, district office and her school but I was never able to get a hold of anyone and I ended up calling the sheriff’s office. From the time her school let out to when she finally made it home, it had been almost three hours.”
Another woman vented her concerns with how the school district operates.
“The wait for the buses was largely due to the fact that the lower grade schools are dismissed 30 minutes earlier than the upper grades,” she said.
Sheldon said today is an early release day for all schools. The elementary schools will be released at 1 p.m., middle school at 1:40 p.m. and the high school at 1:27 p.m.