Cedar Rapids bus driver shortage impacting middle school athletic activities

Published: Sep. 19, 2021 at 7:00 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Fall sports seasons have kicked off for Cedar Rapids middle schools, but the schedules for those sports have drastically changed.

The bus driver shortage for Cedar Rapids Public Schools has impacted multiple games in every fall sport.

“I would say at all of the middle schools we have probably had, per sport, at least three to four that have been impacted because of that travel to outside the district,” explained the Franklin Middle School Activities Director Kathy Dvorak.

Dvorak and other administrators have had to re-tool schedules and cancel games and meets in multiple sports. She said she understands how it affects parents.

“Parents obviously work and they’ve asked for time off to be able to attend these events. They’ve had to go back in and switch things around because the schedules got changed,” said Dvorak.

Cross country has been one of the sports most harshly affected, but multiple Cedar Rapids area middle schools were able to run a meet at Cherry Hill Park last Thursday.

Eighth grader Adam Gray finished first among the boys. It wasn’t just his first meet of the year, it was his first meet ever.

“It felt really good being my first meet. I’ve been playing soccer so I think that helps a little bit,” said Gray.

No matter where their kids finished, parents and grandparents were just grateful fall sports are back.

“Whatever we can do to get them out. This last year was really hard, so whatever we can do for that, is what we want to try to do,” said Sabrina Tapps-Fee.

“Well it’s wonderful because it’s been so long,” added said Bob Wangsness.

This meet will be the first, but not the first of many. Several meets in Iowa City, Prairie and Linn-Mar were cancelled for Cedar Rapids Middle Schools, leaving them with only a small handful.

“Yes it would be really nice to showcase their talents a little more with four or five meets instead of two. I mean that’s what you go to cross country for, but you still get the benefits,” said Wangsness.

Some parents that are able to change their work schedules around, have volunteered to take kids to meets outside of Cedar Rapids.

“We’ve been able to line up some parents that have been willing to step in, myself being one of those,” said Tapps-Fee. “We feel very blessed that we can step in and help out because I know not everybody can. It’s just one of those if we can, we’re going to, so that we can make sure the kids can do it.”

Franklin’s Dvorak said as stressful as the situation is, it’s the young student athletes that keep things going with the flow.

“Kids you know roll with it. ‘Just let me play.’ That’s what it’s about for them,” she said.

The district says they’re working on making sure middle school students have a full activities schedule. Executive Director of Middle Schools Adam Zimmerman said in a statement the district will be collaborating with Cedar Rapids and Iowa City schools to revise schedules and minimize bussing needs while still ensuring students can have a full schedule. They’ll redesign bus drop-off and pick up locations to avoid traffic congestion, explore the possibility of staff and parents carpooling to targeted activities, and explore the possibility to add additional meets and games within the Cedar Rapids Area.

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