An Update for Families Concerning Trash Removal and Student Transportation
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September 14, 2021
Dear School District of Philadelphia Families,
I am writing to share an update about student transportation and trash removal in our schools. It has been exciting to have our young people back in school in person. However, the driver shortage — which is severely impacting schools, trash and food vendors, and other companies across the nation — coupled with a significant increase in resignations and retirements at SDP and local garages, have disrupted our operations beyond what we initially anticipated. We implemented a tiered transportation service model in part to help address the shortage in drivers.
It is clear that this is not enough and we are urgently pursuing other solutions. Here is a summary of actions we have and are taking to help resolve these issues:
● We are further incentivizing participation in the Parent Flat Rate Program by increasing the payment to eligible families who choose to enroll. All eligible families will now receive $300 per month ($3,000 for the school year) for transporting their children to and from school. We now also offer the option for families to receive $150 per month ($1,500 for the school year) for transporting their children to school in the morning only, but still utilizing bus or cab service in the afternoon. To enroll in either of these options, please fill out this Google Form.
● We have provided SEPTA Student Fare Cards to students eligible for bus, van or cab service, and are in discussion with SEPTA regarding providing fare cards to adults to help with transportation for families who do not drive. ● We’ve hired eight temporary staff members to better support the high volume of calls to our Transportation Call Center.
● We are prioritizing the processing of Transportation Action Requests for students with Individualized Education Plans.
● We are meeting with external vendors and community partners to determine their capacity to support our transportation needs.
● contracted several additional vendors and mobilized our own resources to collect overflow trash,
● procured additional bulk dumpsters placed at various sites throughout the city to allow overflow trash to be picked up and transported more efficiently, and
● reached out to the city to explore additional assistance (but they are also experiencing delays with residential trash pickup due to the driver shortage).
I am asking that we work through these issues as a community. You can help by ensuring that your child’s assigned school has your correct address and phone number on file which will support accurate pick up and drop off locations and allow us to contact you in the event of an emergency. Also, if you know of someone who could be a great bus driver candidate, please encourage them to apply here.
We realize that this driver shortage has very real consequences for our students, families and staff, and we sincerely apologize for these service disruptions. Please know that we are taking this matter very seriously, and will continue to explore options until all excess trash is removed from our school sites and timely transportation services for our students are restored.
William R. Hite Jr., Ed.D.
The School District of Philadelphia