Athletics vs Academics, who gets the Bus?

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Photo Credit: Edwin Fava

Brandon Vega, Reporter

Currently, the district is going through a shortage of bus drivers, and it’s starting to show. With the addition of more routes to and from the high school for all grade levels and many other factors as well, there have been numerous instances where the bussing situation for a certain club or sport’s team was different from the norm.

For example, earlier in the school year, Digital Communications and Student Council took a trip to Anaheim for a leadership conference, but they were forced to pay for a charter bus instead due to the shortage of bus drivers. Even though they are a CTE class and have access to the WAVE bus, which was available, there were no drivers, adding thousands to the cost of the trip.

CTE Coordinator for WAVE and CTED Marsha Becker works with the cooperation of three other coordinators from other schools around the river to utilize tax payer dollars to support programs in vocational education, like Autos or Cabinetmaking.

Within these CTE classes, student organizations like FBLA, SkillsUSA and more travel frequently for regional and state competitions, conferences and other events around or even out of the state. Mix all those with sports and non-CTE academic field trips, throughout the year, scheduling for busses and bus drivers will start to conflict. However, Becker doesn’t see this as a CTE issue; this a “high school issue,” but until the district gets more bus drivers, the situation for bus trips not going as planned will continue.

Another reason bus trips don’t always go as planned are the current regulations from the Arizona Interscholastic Association (AIA) sports schedule for LHHS. They have to make it to every event on time, or fines will be handed down to the district for not complying with the AIA schedule. “If we miss a date or a game, or have to reschedule we get fined for that,” Transportation Supervisor for LHUSD #1 Robert Keirns said. While there’s no real priority for athletics, “it’s just that they get more leverage; once we commit to that date. We have to make sure we’re there.” Thus, a club who gets their event on the calendar first isn’t  guaranteed a driver.

Although Keirns is aware of a current situation when a CTE competition didn’t have a driver and and had to get a charter, he also knows this is something that has been going on for awhile. For example, boys Varsity basketball made the playoffs earlier in the year, they too had to take a charter bus since it was so spontaneous that there was no driver available due to other events that same day. Yet “these types of occurrences have happened for multiple years, with several different groups,” Keirns said.

Lake Havasu Unified School District #1 is currently working on hiring more activity drivers Keirns explained. However, trying to support more daily routes, meet the demands of the sporting schedule and supply drivers for academic trips has become quite the juggling act.