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Schools Step Up to Help Transport Mustang Band to National Competition

Schools Step Up to Help Transport Mustang Band to National Competition

Schools across the state are increasingly feeling the impact of critical staffing shortages, specifically the lack of qualified bus drivers. On November 3rd, the Bixby school district closed its doors due to a driver shortage. Edmond still has open positions to fill. Then, Deer Creek schools sent out an email warning that driver shortages could cause canceled classes and athletic activities. Edmond followed soon after with a similar email.

The reality of the driver shortage hit Mustang schools last week. The Mustang High School Marching Band faced the possible cancellation of their trip to the Bands of America Grant National Competition. Mustang, which took 3rd at the Oklahoma Bandmasters Association 6A state competition, couldn’t secure the buses needed to travel to Indianapolis for the national competition.

Mustang Band Blog PhotoIn this moment of crisis, nearby districts stepped up to provide the buses needed via community support. Both Yukon and Mid-Del Public schools offered the buses Mustang needed to transport the band, parents, teachers, volunteers and equipment.

“We saw a need and an opportunity to help kids so we did. That's what public education is all about,” said Yukon Public Schools Superintendent Dr. W. Jason Simeroth.

A tweet posted to the MPS Operations Page said, “...we want to thank everyone who worked tirelessly to make this happen; this has restored our faith in humanity.”

It’s an inspiring thing to see schools work together to meet each other's needs in a critical time. EKCO knows these are pressing issues that need creative solutions now. As OKC’s unemployment numbers continue to fall, the obstacle of bus driver certification will continue to create a vacuum of positions without staff to fill them. We need more state leaders to lead like these local administrators, who used innovative ways to address a gap in transportation.

It’s time for administrators, educators, and legislators to get creative and think beyond the yellow school bus to find solutions for transporting students. Oklahoma needs to look at relaxing some of the driver qualifications as well as other solutions to this growing problem that will remain critical until we create a pathway forward.

“Kids are already facing the results of last year’s learning loss. We need them to be in the classroom every day catching up,” said Oklahoma Secretary of Education and EKCO Executive Director Ryan Walters. “Losing essential time because of an issue like busing should not be acceptable to anyone. Now is the time to be looking for solutions to this issue because it is only going to get worse.”

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