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Moorhead School District slashes students without bus options from 1,600 to 800

The school district is also clearing up confusion between an email parents received, and what is posted in PowerSchool.

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A bus outside Moorhead High School recruits drivers.
Steve Elwell/WDAY News
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MOORHEAD - It's a bumpy ride to start the school year in Moorhead.

Making it even bumpier, conflicting information from the district for families who won't have a bus to ride.

Ashley Miller calls it nerve wracking.

"To plan anything out in advance you can't, because you are still waiting on your answer if you are going or not," said the single mother.

Her son Bentley is set to begin 7th grade at Horizon Middle School. He is one of about 800 students who would usually have a seat on the bus who won't to start the year.

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"Very frustrated and upset, because I was literally planning on him to ride the bus," she said.

The district announced last week it is short 7 bus drivers. That forced the district to double the parental responsibility zone from 1 to 2 miles for bus service.

It only impacts high school and middle school students.

There are no changes for elementary students.

"It's been a challenge," said Steve Moore, the operations and emergency management director for the district.

There's also been a lot of confusion about how the 2 mile radius works. It's the same strategy used for the one mile radius.

"From the center mass of the school in a straight line radius," explained Moore.

Adding to the confusion. Earlier this week several parents received an email that they were within that 2 mile radius. Hours later they were informed their kid had a seat on the bus.

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"As all the enrollment data continues to come in we continue to use our routing software to optimize routes, we try different combinations, my folks in transportation have been working really long hours to optimize these routes to make them as efficient as possible and get as many students on," explained Moore.

Last week the number of students without a bus was 1,600.

That's been cut in half, but some buses will have up to 70 kids on board.

The district says this is one of busiest weeks for enrollment, so they hope to finalize bus routes by Friday, August 26th.

Parents are encouraged to check PowerSchool daily to see if their child has been put on a bus.

Ultimately, the district is optimistic the 7 empty driver seats will be filled by November 1st so they can add all the routes back. They will be added as driver seats are filled.

"The news only gets better from this point forward," said Moore.

Moore says with the fluctuating enrollment numbers, he does not believe students would be removed from bus routes.

Matt Henson is an Emmy award-winning reporter/photographer/editor for WDAY. Prior to joining WDAY in 2019, Matt was the main anchor at WDAZ in Grand Forks for four years. He was born and raised in the suburbs of Philadelphia and attended college at Lyndon State College in northern Vermont, where he was recognized twice nationally, including first place, by the National Academy for Arts and Science for television production. Matt enjoys being a voice for the little guy. He focuses on crimes and courts and investigative stories. Just as often, he shares tear-jerking stories and stories of accomplishment. Matt enjoys traveling to small towns across North Dakota and Minnesota to share their stories. He can be reached at mhenson@wday.com and at 610-639-9215. When he's not at work (rare) Matt resides in Moorhead and enjoys spending time with his daughter, golfing and attending Bison and Sioux games.
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