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CT High School sports team struggles with transportation issues

Killingly High School’s cross-country team met earlier this month in Stonington, scheduled to begin at 4:30pm. The team left school at noon on Wednesday as there was only one bus available for him to drive.

“They arrived three hours and fifteen minutes before the competition,” said Killingly’s athletic director Kevin Marcoh.

While the situation was far from ideal, it is an unfortunate reality that many school districts throughout Connecticut continue to face when it comes to transporting student-athletes to sporting events. Although the shortage of bus drivers has improved to some extent, some districts are hiring outside companies, spending more money, or scheduling games at different times to keep athletes from attending games. Additional steps must be taken to make it possible.

Killingly’s team was struggling with five drivers from a bus company serving the district due to illness. Bus companies have significantly improved their staffing this year after peaking shortages in the last two years, but they are still short of just a few drivers, and they are not enough for their daily needs, let alone sports-related transport. It can have far-reaching effects on bus routes.

In the absence of these drivers, Marcoux contacted recent football match opponents Norwich Free Academy to see if the school could provide transportation for Killingly. School administrators agreed and Killingly was able to provide transportation for the students to return home after the game. But it was another temporary solution.

another company, more money

Athletic Director of Danbury High School, Chip Salvestrini, is one of the managers looking outside the company the district contracts to help transport players. And it’s a thought he’s grown accustomed to.

“Transportation services from our district have improved this year, but they are nowhere near where we need them,” Salvestrini said. He triples he quadruples in school district bus fares, provided, however, that if there is no noticeable improvement in increasing district bus usage during the time of year during the year, the currently implemented bus Insufficient funds for transportation. We may go over budget before the Spring 2023 season begins. “

The district hired Norwalk company Elite Limousine for more than half of the games held outside the Danbury campus in September. This is because the company that contracts with the district cannot bring teams to games until 4:00 p.m., and many games in Danbury require the district to be out of school by 2:30 p.m. is.

However, using an outside company comes at a cost. That’s about $600 more per event, about $24,600 more for September alone, Salvestrini said.

“I can’t speak for other school districts, but this is a big red flag for us,” Salvestrini said. “We are well served by our outside vendors. However, it is clear that we have no way of sustaining the funds needed to manage our movement shipments with outside carriers.”

If you use a company other than the one the Weston school contracts with, the cost will similarly double, or more, said Mark Berkowitz, the high school’s athletic director. The school district increased his transportation funding this year by $7,000, but that doesn’t appear to be enough.

“In terms of transportation needs, I didn’t know we were going to be as bad as we are now, or maybe a little more,” Berkowitz said.

Transportation costs at Cheshire High School have also doubled from $110,000 a year to $200,000 last year.

“A regular school bus is about $250 in a typical competition, but a charter can run over $900,” said Athletic Director Steve Triphon. “We try to double the number of teams in charters to be more cost-effective. Spring tends to be the most expensive, as contests are held in the afternoon when school buses are not available (due to school dissolution). must be available for the purpose).

Derby High School Athletic Director Teg Cosgriff rescheduled the game for another reason. A local company has to drop off students between 2:00 p.m. and he 4:00 p.m.

“We will either move the game to a later date or secure other transportation services from an outside vendor,” said Cosgriff. “Middle school is having the toughest time as it is difficult for schools to move games to late hours.

Similarly, Coginchaug High School students are not allowed to participate in away games until approximately 5:00 p.m. Todd Petronio, an athletic director at the Durham-based school, said district administrators did not want to dismiss students early for the game and decided to push instead. rice field. Returns the start time.

“In the last two years, they feel they have lost a lot of time[at school],” said Petronio. “Last spring it was customary to lay off early, but that is not an acceptable practice. Looking at bus trips over the past two weeks, we probably moved 25% of our games to another time or day. We don’t typically reach out to various outside companies, and the cost of sending them far exceeds the inconvenience, so we move games to later start times or Saturdays.”


The problem with the bus is the dripping stuff. College varsity, junior varsity and freshman teams may already be in trouble.

In addition to moving subversity games to Saturday, Masuk High School’s athletic director, Craig Semple, said it needed to “double up several small teams on one bus going in the same direction.” said there is

Semple played the same role for 18 years at Hand High School in Madison. In the past, bus companies “reached out to other towns to meet our needs. The prices were the same.” is no longer a luxury.

Meanwhile, Salvestrini and Oxford High School Athletic Director Joe Stochmal are among those who have played more games on Saturdays with fewer, if any, clashes between bus companies.

“It doesn’t get any better. Hopefully it will get better,” Stokmar said. “I have been told by[the bus company]in Oxford that they are doing a lot of hiring and training.

Brookfield was one of the most affected neighborhoods last fall. Athletic director Steve Baldwin will begin using his bus to party from his limousine in the spring of 2021.

Baldwin said shipping has been much smoother so far this fall, with no need to use an outside company. But old habits quickly fade. Just in case Baldwin had a busy carriage day, he booked a limousine and a landjet.

“Give them 24 hours and there is no cancellation problem,” says Baldwin. “They worked with us and were understanding. Both companies have been great.”; @nhr Joe Morelli