The 2022-23 Andover Public Schools budget includes a contract for 40 buses, up from 38 in 2021-22, when driver shortages and a lack of available buses caused service problems for school districts across Massachusetts.
The school committee formally approved amending its transportation contract to add the two additional buses at its meeting Thursday. The additional buses will help reduce run times and allow the school system to add buses where run times are longer, Keith Taverna, APS assistant superintendent for finance, told the committee.
The new contract also includes two, substitute drivers for Andover. The previous contract had a pool of substitute drivers who covered for four districts served by Trombly School Bus, APS’s transportation provider. Taverna said the district is also evaluating existing routes to see if they can run more efficiently. The proposed new, routes are currently being driven by Trombly drivers to make sure there is no issue.
Routes will be sent to families on Aug. 22.
“I think that’s all excellent news to all of us,” Committee Chair Susan McCready said. “We heard a lot about buses last year.”
Taverna said there will also be electronic signage in school buses indicating the bus number, as well as magnetic signs on the sides of the bus that will help identify the bus route and its service for APS when a substitute bus is called into service. Those signs, however, may not be ready by the start of the school year because of global supply chain issues
Taverna also said he is hopeful four new electric buses that will be used in Andover will be ready by the start of the school year. “Supply chain — that’s all I will say,” Taverna said. “That’s all I hear all day, every day.”