Transportation troubles continue for Waterloo families - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Transportation troubles continue for Waterloo families


This year, the Waterloo Community School District is getting tough when it comes to transportation rules. It's a step in the right direction for the district, after years of problems with its previous bussing company. But some parents aren't happy about the changes.

The new bus company, Durham School Services, is enforcing state rules which the district says were waived or overlooked in the past. That includes a policy over daycare drop-offs and pick-ups. If an aunt or grandparent takes care of a child before school, the bus will no longer pick that child up -- unless the caretaker is a state-certified childcare provider.

You can imagine, it's creating a lot of headaches for working moms and dads like Doug Taylor and his wife Kathy. They both work full-time, and their jobs start early. So they count on Doug's sister, Denise Rand, to watch the kids before and after school.

"I love my brother. So of course I'm going to do it. And I love my niece and nephew. So it was never an issue," said Rand.

"It's not like the bus was going ten miles out of its way to make the stop. The bus is making the stop," said Taylor.

The Taylor's received a daycare waiver, and Kale and Kassidy simply rode on the same bus as their cousins. Up until last week, when Taylor received a letter from the district letting him know their request for an alternate bus stop was denied.

After several phone calls and some research, they figured out why. Rand is not a licensed daycare provider, and under state code, the district is not required to provide transportation for the children she's watching -- even if they're related.

"What we find valuable about the license and the registration is that it gives assurance of a standard of care and safety," said Waterloo Community Schools Director of Community Relations Sharon Miller.

"We don't find out about all the changes and differences with the new company until two weeks into the school year. And we got a letter in the mail," noted Taylor.

The code hasn't changed, but its enforcement has since Durham replaced first student.

"We didn't really know how extensive the situation was. They granted an awful lot of exceptions, that we didn't know about and we wouldn't have agreed to," said Miller.

Miller said the only solution is for Rand to begin working on state daycare certification.

"Then you will get a temporary license basically saying, you're getting started," said Rand.

"And we would consider them eligible for bussing," added Miller.

It's not the ideal situation, but Rand is willing to go that extra step to get her license and get the kids on the bus.

"It's just going to be a breath of relaxation. A little less stress," said Rand.

The Taylor's and Rand's are planning to speak at the next school board meeting. They're hoping the board will consider amending the transportation policy to accommodate working families. Not everyone is lucky enough to have a sister like Rand. She actually did daycare in the past, so applying for the license is a bit easier. Either way, it does cost $100 and requires 12 to 14 weeks of training.

The Waterloo Community School District says it had about 300 daycare stop requests. About a third of those were denied for the same reason as the Taylor's faced. Miller said transportation for 15 students is still in flux.

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