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Some school districts are paying parents as the school bus driver shortage leaves their kids without a ride

Juanpablo Ramirez-Franco

The nationwide school bus shortage likely won’t subside anytime soon. Some districts -- including DeKalb -- are starting to reimburse parents & guardians who have had to find alternate transportation when their kids are left without a ride.

Right now, 13 bus routes aren’t run in DeKalb. That’s fewer than last month, but the DeKalb School District’s director of business & finance, Cynthia Carpenter, said because of the nature of the pandemic it’s difficult to say whether the number will keep going down.

“We're getting a Google Form put together that we can push out to parents,” she said. “They can basically give us their student's name, what route that is been affected, and then we can get gather the data, and then start on processing those reimbursements.”

She said the reimbursement is $.56 per mile -- in line with the IRS standard mileage rate. The reimbursement plan was approved at a recent school board meeting.

“We know for each of the students how far they are away from the school they go to," she said. "So, it seemed like a good way to kind of in a more systematic way, establish how much we can reimburse parents.”

Parents will sign up on a Google Form the district hopes to send out this week, with payments soon to come. After that, they’ll be processed monthly.

Carpenter said parents only have to sign up once since the district can track the routes affected. She said there have been some students more impacted than others, which the district is trying to mitigate as well.

The Chicago Public School District started reimbursing parents in August. Those payments came in $1,000 stipends for the first few weeks and then $500 the following months.

Peter joins WNIJ as a graduate of North Central College. He is a native of Sandwich, Illinois.