Fourteen Akron school buses got stuck on snowy city streets Wednesday morning, causing transportation delays for several students.

District maintenance workers were able to dig out the buses with tow trucks, said Mark Williamson, the communications director for Akron Public Schools.

A school bus also hit a tree on Glenn Street and a part of the tree fell on the bus. No one was injured.

While students made it to school safely, Williamson knew that traveling through snow would be a challenge for some.

"Dealing with a snow emergency challenges just about every system and aspect of life in a community," he said in a prepared statement. "Today, our drivers did a terrific job of keeping all of our kids safe, including the drivers who found their buses stuck on a city street for awhile. We had some students a bit late for class, but we were prepared for that eventuality well in advance."

After receiving numerous complaints about its snow removal efforts this week, the city issued an apology to residents Wednesday afternoon and pledged to improve.

"We prioritize APS bus routes. They are treated like primary streets, even if they are residential streets," city spokeswoman Ellen Lander Nischt said in an email. "Unfortunately, some of these routes were plowed once but experienced additional snowfall or were not cleared down to pavement. The safety of kids is our top priority and we work with APS to address complaints as soon as possible. We are looking to ways to further streamline communication between APS and the dispatch center. Our apology regarding our overall response to this storm extends to these routes — we need to do better and we will." 

About 7,500 of the school district's 21,000 students ride buses or take some sort of public transportation to and from school.

The 9,000 or more students who walk to school also faced challenges getting to class on Wednesday. With snow-filled sidewalks not shoveled, many kids were forced to walk in the streets.

Williamson encouraged residents to shovel sidewalks to prevent kids for having to walk in the streets.

"One of the things that concerns us is our sidewalks," he said. "The kids' safety is our priority and we don't want them walking in the streets."

Some parents were upset because the school district didn't call off school Wednesday. Williamson said the reason for schools remaining open was because of the rise in temperature.

Tiffany Brown has two sons, one attending Firestone High School and the other NIHF Stem Middle School. Her middle school student rides a school bus.

Brown didn't receive any notice about bus delays, but she opted to take her kids to school Wednesday because she had the day off work.

"I do think [APS] should've did a call informing parents about the buses being delayed and I do believe they should have canceled due to road conditions," Brown said.

 

Beacon Journal staff writer Doug Livingston contributed to this report.  Brandon Bounds can be reached at 330-996-3762 or bbounds@thebeaconjournal.com.