Camden City School District families can get $1K to skip school bus, drive kids

"We know this has been an incredibly difficult way to start our school year," the district says.
CAMDEN, New Jersey (WPVI) -- The Camden City School District is offering families $1,000 to take their children to school themselves this school year.

It is another district dealing with a shortage of school bus drivers since classes resumed.

"Like several other districts in the region, the Camden City School District has struggled to secure timely transportation for all of our eligible students," the district said in a letter to the community.
Families who can take their children to and from school the for the 2021-2022 school year can apply for the $1,000 contract.

Parents had mixed reactions to the news on Thursday.

"It's a good effort from the schools' behalf to help the parents out. A lot of these parents are in need, and it's great to have that," parent Jose Martinez of Camden said.

"It's good that they want to pay parents to take their kids to school, but I also think it's a bad idea because it's the bus drivers' job, so it's like in a way we're doing their job for them," said parent Latoya Tunnell.

State Superintendent of Camden City School District Katrina McCombs says they have not been able to secure transportation for roughly 500 families out of the 2,500 eligible in charter, renaissance, and traditional school districts.

To qualify, the district says families would have to meet these requirements:

1. Child must be eligible for transportation services
2. Your child must be attending a Camden City school
3. You, household member, must have a current license
4. You, household member, must have a current vehicle registration
5. You, household member, must have insurance with a $15,000 liability coverage

To apply for a parent contract with the school district, click here.

In addition, the Camden City School District is also offering monthly bus tickets for those who want to accompany their child to school via NJ Transit.

To qualify, the district says you would have to meet the following requirements:

1. Child must be eligible for transportation services
2. Your child must be attending a Camden City school
3. You, household member, must be at least 18 years or older to accompany your child on NJ Transit

"There are parents downstairs now in our 'Parent Solution Center' waiting to get support with questions how to apply, how to ascertain either the parent contract opportunity or the bus pass opportunity," McCombs told Action News.

In June, the district notified families they would be moving to tiered start times to accommodate bus vendors.

In August, McCombs explained that the district was told by bus vendors that there were still difficulties filling route requests.

The district commended families' efforts and also said the district has been working hard to get children in the classroom.

"We want to make sure we're eliminating any barriers to students being able to get to school during this crisis," McCombs said. "We are able to allow remote instruction for students who are struggling and having difficulties getting to school due to transportation issues but again, that is a last alternative. We want all of our students in school."

McCombs says they will continue to work with legislators and state agencies.

"We know this has been an incredibly difficult way to start our school year and yet we know we will only overcome these challenges as a community. Our students deserve the best, and we are working to provide the best service," the district said.

The School District of Philadelphia and the EastSide Charter School in Delaware are among others offering cash incentives for parents to drive their kids to school amid the bus driver shortage.

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