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Education

Pittsburgh Public Schools Plans To Again Change The School Year Start Date

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WITF

Hours ahead of a school board vote to delay the start of the school year by two weeks, Pittsburgh Public Schools Superintendent Anthony Hamlet told families in a robocall that he would propose yet another start date.

The board had been set to vote on delaying the school year by two weeks, from August 25 to Sept. 8, during a special legislative meeting Wednesday evening. The delay, school officials have said, was necessitated by a shortage of bus drivers capable of getting students to school. But in a Wednesday-afternoon robocall, Hamlet said he would propose that students return Sept. 3 instead.

“This allows all students to start as early as possible while also giving the district time to fully implement transportation strategies designed to meet the bus driver shortage and transport students to school every day,” Hamlet said in the call.

The shift comes after the board heard from more than 100 parents, students and teachers this week in response to the initial delay. A majority urged the board not to delay the year, and said the district should be held accountable for last-minute moves.

In the Wednesday robocall, Hamlet said, “We understand that many families have made alternative plans to accommodate a later start date, and this evening’s vote will include additional supports for families at the district level.”

Hamlet and his administrative team have previously said they need more time to solve its transportation issues. About 11,000 students do not have district-provided transportation. Last month, the board approved two new transportation carrier contracts. But Hamlet has said those companies need more time to onboard drivers before the start of the school year.

For months, Hamlet has promised families that the district will return for in-person learning five days a week. He said during a press conference this week that if the transportation issues aren’t resolved, the district may have to consider a hybrid model.

But in his robocall, Hamlet said that a Sept. 3 start would allow “all students to start as early as possible while also giving the district time to fully implement transportation strategies designed to meet the bus driver shortage and transport students to school every day.”

Speakers during the public hearing also voiced frustration that the district announced the changes, made changes to the online calendar and announced the new start date on social media, all without a board vote.

Tonight’s meeting at 6 p.m. can be streamed at pghschools.org.