Bus driver shortage affecting Stamford parents and students
Parents in the city of Stamford said that they're being left in the dark when it comes to inter-school sports for their kids due to a bus shortage.
They said the problem started in the beginning of the school year when the Turn of River Middle School decided to have no outside sports with other schools for seventh and eighth graders. Now, the bus driver shortage is affecting pick up and drop off times, as well as causing youth sports to cancel away games.
For students at TRMS, they said being this age and not being able to play is a big deal. It's been a problem for months with no end in sight.
The kids competing in fall and winter sports like basketball, volleyball and lacrosse say that their beloved away games are only memories on a phone these days -- all away games have been canceled.
“This year when the first sports got announced, they very quickly canceled after school intramurals for cross country because of not having buses,” said Ross Katz, a Stamford parent.
It's not because kids don't want to play. Parents said the lack of bus drivers with a company called "First Student Bus" means seventh and eighth graders miss out on their favorite sports against other schools in the area.
“It stinks because all the other schools get to play, and everyone in our school, not just us, we all want to play basketball because we love the game,” said Ryan Faherty, a student.
They have been left to play with just their friends or maybe a club team. Parents told News 12’s Jeff Derderian that they're not here to blame anyone, they just want their kids to be able to compete and get better. It's also an attempt to hopefully push the school and bus company to try harder to find people.
The parents and students are also thinking about how this will affect eighth graders preparing to make high school school teams next year.
“He's a big basketball player and he was looking forward to turning up for the team this year at school and competing with the other schools around the district,” said Shelby Potenza.
“One of the greatest things about Stamford is we have this rivalry between schools and it grows,” said Ross Katz. “They were excited to compete and then that urge to compete really went away.”
It's all about the game at this age, but disrupting sports isn't the only problem. Blended bus routes means drivers are taking more than one route. This has led to students' bus ride to and from school being delayed. Alessand Cataldo said she waits almost an hour and a half for her son, Luca, to get home from school.
“It's affecting when my child is going to school, he’s getting there late and also affecting him when he is coming home,” said Cataldo.
For them, having kids join a club doesn't mean they don’t miss the competition of playing other teams. However, not all kids can afford to join a club team, which can be hundreds of dollars just to join, let alone keep up with related costs.
“There's some kids in this school and the other schools in Stamford, that this is their shot to get out and play team sports before high school,” said Potenza. “They’re not getting the experience that they’re going to need."
One student is keeping his head up and asking for the school system to keep trying.
“Please raise awareness, look harder for new bus drivers, we appreciate everything you’ve been doing,” said Dylan Potenza. “Keep at it."
The parents said they heard from the principal this week who said there may be a development coming, but they have no details.
News 12 reached out to the school and the bus company for comment but there has been no response.