Where’s the magic school bus?

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With the end of summer, students were excited to attend their first week of school in the state of Hawaiʻi. However, middle school and high school students in Maui were faced with transportation issues due to the the lack of bus drivers on those islands. Many families have been scrambling to find another form of transportation for their children and many do not know when this issue will be resolved. If every child has a right to an education, they should have access to transportation to get to their school. Students can not practice their right to free education if they donʻt have access to transportation.

With the beginning of school on August 7th, nearly 400 students have been affected by the shortage of bus drivers. This situation will continue until more drivers are hired. The state is offering increased pay and bonuses to those who are qualified to drive school busses. They are hoping to find bus drivers as soon as possible, but this may become the new routine for students in Maui. The state has considered flying in bus drivers from the neighboring island, Oahu, but this is only for drivers who are willing, and there haven’t been many who have stepped up to the plate.

In the meantime, many families have had to adjust to the change in routine. This change is causing several issues across the island, including finding an alternative form of transportation for their children. Many parents now have to juggle their work schedules with the start and end times of school. Some parents have resorted to taking time off of their jobs so that they can drop off and/or pick up their children. Others are asking family members to help with driving. And some parents have decided to get their children bus passes for the Maui Bus. It is a difficult situation for families who regularly rely on the bus to get their children to school.

There are mainly three schools in Maui that have been affected by the shortage of bus drivers, which include Lahainaluna High School, Baldwin High School, and Iao Intermediate school. Also, bus routes for Maui High School and Maui Waena have been consolidated, meaning longer wait times for students. These schools have attempted to prepare for the changes by adding more parking spaces and extending the times in which school breakfast is served. They have also been more lenient on students who arrive late to school due to the changes with the bus system.

In attempt to fix the situation, the Department of Education, the DOE, suggested students use the county bus system while they try to fix the issue. However, the Mayor of Maui, Alan Arakawa, said those buses are already at running capacity. This means the busses do not have space available for the amount of students who would need to take it. Another issue is that the county buses are not reliable. They are often late, and sometimes do not even show up. Also many parents are concerned about letting their children ride the county buses alone. This solution to the shortage of bus drivers, brought forward by the DOE, is not reasonable.

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