Fireworks expected at school board meeting today
Today is the day.
While school board meetings are usually excruciatingly dull affairs, today's promises high drama.
Will Superintendent Robert Runcie admit his administration's culpability in this year's school bus debacle? Or will he continue to pass the buck?
Will Runcie's hand-picked transportation director from Chicago, Chester Tindall, finally address the issues on the ground? Will he even be there?
How will the school board members -- whose reputations have all been hurt by this mess whether they deserve it or not -- react and what will they decide?
Runcie has steadfastly claimed that the mess this year -- which has left thousands of children in the lurch when trying to catch a bus to school -- is an historic problem with the department that he's been trying to resolve. But what is happening this year is the worst operational crisis to hit the school board in years. It's new. And he's the new superintendent. Runcie also told the newspaper last week that the problems were due to "sabotage" by employees. He didn't have any facts to back that up then. Will he have some today?
Tindall was in the Sun-Sentinel again this morning, talking about nepotism and cutting costs in the department. Of course nobody wants nepotism in the transportation department and everybody wants to cut costs. These are old issues that have been rehashed over and over again and good on Runcie and Tindall for trying to address them. But nepotism and budget concerns aren't leaving children stranded on the side of the road this year.
Even this morning in the newspaper, Tindall blames the driver shortage on the human resources department for not "approving" his request to hire more than 90 drivers back in April.
Wait a minute. On June 12, two months before school began, Tindall told the school board at a workshop he was hiring 93 drivers. You can see it in the video above. He didn't mention any rejection by the human resources department at that time. He did say the application process was going slower than he would like. So is Tindall just feeding the public baloney to try to get himself off the hook? Whatever the case, it's a bad excuse, not to mention the fact that the idea that some human resources employee can stop Tindall and Runcie from hiring bus drivers is wildly absurd.
The problem with the shortage is clear: Tindall didn't get the job done and the school year began nearly 100 drivers short. They say the district is still, today, 50 drivers short.
Throw on top of the shortage myriad other problems -- a faulty new routing system, a lack of preparation, a new software upgrade that caused problems, failure to get bus information to parents -- and you're no longer wondering why there was a crisis this year. You're wondering why it's not worse.