All boards can learn from Toronto school bus 'crisis': ombudsman

Ontario's ombudsman says school boards across the province can learn from a bussing crisis in Toronto last September.
   
A report from Paul Dube today says more than 2,600 students were left stranded at bus stops or after school in the first few weeks of school last year because of a driver shortage.
   
He says at least three junior kindergarten students went missing for various lengths of time and bus delays and disruptions were particularly challenging for students with special needs.
   
Dube says school bus mishaps happen every year around the province, but the scope of the problem in Toronto last year was unprecedented.
   
He says there were clear early warning signs months before the start of the school year, but officials failed to adequately plan for contingencies and communicate effectively.
   
The Toronto District School Board and Toronto Catholic District School Board accept the ombudsman's recommendations and say they don't anticipate significant challenges like those seen last year.
   
The boards say some changes they have already made include giving bus operators routes earlier in the planning process, installing new bus routing software and launching an online transportation portal to allow parents to access information and get email notifications if there are any school bus cancellations or delays.