NEW MILFORD \u2014 The buses are late. Or they only run one way. Or they don\u2019t come at all. This school year, New Milford has been plagued by bus staffing shortages through their contracted transportation company, All-Star Transportation, that have caused continuous route and schedule changes. Sometimes, these adjustments occur with little forewarning \u2014 a driver cannot work one day, and communications have to be sent out to parents to let them know that morning or afternoon routes are canceled or adjusted. This is likely to continue through the rest of the year, according Superintendent Alisha DiCorpo. To combat the ongoing issues, the company and district are trying to implement changes to alert parents sooner and add a \u201csecond run\u201d schedule to get kids where they need to go. \u201cBased on my conversations with the transportation provider, this may go on sporadically for the remainder of the year. COVID also plays a factor as it does for all businesses and school districts,\u201d DiCorpo wrote in an email to The News-Times. On Friday, DiCorpo announced in another letter that two routes, bus 15 and bus 19, have been eliminated and students on those routes will be consolidated into other existing routes starting Tuesday. All-Star serves districts including Newtown, Brookfield, Torrington and Ansonia. The start of the school year saw interruptions to bus routes in several districts, both in Connecticut and nationwide. Yet, New Milford seems to be one of the few school districts served by All-Star that continues to struggle with weekly, if not daily, interruptions to service. Newtown Superintendent Lorrie Rodrigue said after initial struggles at the start of the year, her district \u201cis in a good place currently and have not had many of those same issues in recent weeks.\u201d Similarly, in Brookfield, Superintendent John Barile said there have been no route issues or staffing effects to the point that routes have been canceled. DiCorpo said New Milford\u2019s continued struggles were due to \u201cillness and driver shortages.\u201d The company has not responded to The News-Times since September when a reporter first reached out for comment. \u201cThe New Milford school district recognizes the disruption and challenges to all of our students and families in New Milford,\u201d said Board of Education Chairwoman Wendy Faulenbach. \u201cThis matter has been taken seriously and will continue to be, by working collaboratively with the bus company, the board, and the town.\u201d According to its website, the company has had a terminal in New Milford since 2004 and transports 4,500 children daily during the school year. This fiscal year, New Milford shelled out roughly $4.1 million to All-Star as part of its transportation contract, a 3 percent increase from the year before. This is the district\u2019s fourth year of a five-year contract. Faulenbach said any service interruptions will \u201calways be discussed with the vendor\u201d when they occur and during contract negotiations. \u201cWe understand, All-Star understands, that there\u2019s been some servicing issues, and those discussions will take place and continue to take place,\u201d she said, \u201cbut we are all working together.\u201d She added that the first priority is making sure services are running for students. Faulenbach said they are telling the company: \u201cwhatever resources you have, both in New Milford and out of district, we need them.\u201d Making changes On Thursday, DiCorpo wrote to families suggesting that interruptions to certain bus routes would persist for the remainder of the year. To address this, All-Star is creating a \u201csecond run\u201d with 30- to 40-minute time frames to make sure children get to and from school if their regular buses cannot run. Second runs will not be available on days with delayed starts or early dismissals. In the mornings, buses going to Schaghticoke Middle School and New Milford High will pick up between 8:45 a.m. and 9:15 a.m., while other schools will run between 9:50 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. In the afternoon, kids at Schaghticoke and the high school will be picked up between 3:45 p.m. and 4 p.m., and other students between 4:30p.m. and 4:45 p.m. The new \u201csecond run\u201d routes will begin Tuesday. \u201cWhile we realize that this is not ideal, we are doing everything to try to get children to and from school,\u201d DiCorpo wrote. \u201cWe are grateful to All-Star for helping us to realize this strategy and for the bus drivers who are taking on the responsibility of the additional routes.\u201d She said the district would be working to support families \u201cbeyond these second runs.\u201d The district has started updating its transportation page with altered bus route announcements, including a pop-up on the site\u2019s landing page alerting parents to visit the transportation page to check for updates. DiCorpo said the district is in communication with All-Star three times a day, and would be updating the transportation page three times a day as well, to let parents know if morning, afternoon, or the next day\u2019s bus routes would be interrupted. \u201cWe will update these daily as needed at 5:30 a.m. for morning bus runs, 11:00 a.m. for afternoon bus runs, and then again at 7:30 p.m. for any new changes for the next day,\u201d DiCorpo wrote. Online, district parents frequently update each other on the status of certain buses, sharing information and emails to let others know which buses will be delayed or canceled for the day. Some say they don\u2019t always get the notifications from the school. All-Star has been working to fill staffing shortages for several months. A job posting from June says that anyone 21 and older with three years of driving experience can apply. The job pays $17.77 per hour. Mayor Pete Bass has not been involved in any of the busing conversations at the school level, but he has been staying in touch with the schools to support them. \u201cIt\u2019s quite a challenge,\u201d he said. \u201cWe\u2019re here to support in whatever way the Board of Education and the superintendent need us to be,\u201d Bass said. \u201cWith the improved communication methods we've worked with All-Star to implement as well as the strategies we will employ between now and June, I believe things have already begun to improve and will continue to do so,\u201d DiCorpo wrote.