Wilton Superintendent addresses bus delays, food shortages and traffic

Superintendent of School Kevin Smith directs two students into school for their first day of in-person class at Miller-Driscoll on Sept. 8, 2020, in Wilton, Conn.

Superintendent of School Kevin Smith directs two students into school for their first day of in-person class at Miller-Driscoll on Sept. 8, 2020, in Wilton, Conn.

Jarret Liotta / For Hearst Connecticut Media

WILTON — Nearly two weeks removed from the first day of school and things are going “relatively smooth, though certainly not perfect,” Superintendent of Schools Kevin Smith said Thursday.

Smith said traffic during pickup and dropoff with near-daily bus delays has been an issue, as has a shortage of food at Wilton High School.

“The start has not been without its hiccups,” Smith told the school board Thursday.

First, the superintendent observed persistent busing issues since the first day. He noted that buses have “been delayed almost daily” since school began.

As of Thursday, Smith noted the district was still seeing delays. These are most prevalent at Cider Mill School and Middlebrook Middle School.

Additionally, traffic and congestion has been difficult to deal with at pickup and dropoff times.

The district has a “high volume” of parents still dropping off their children as buses are rolling through, Smith said. He preached patience to parents. In some “isolated reports” at Middlebrook, Smith has been notified of residents pulling out and around buses in the parking lot of the school to try to expedite their entrance or exit. He said that can cause an “unsafe environment.”

“People need to take a breath and know that the traffic pattern takes about 12 to 15 minutes to move through,” Smith said. He asked them to “plan accordingly” to avoid this in the future.

The district will continue to rely on the Wilton Police to provide additional traffic management. “We continue to rely on them to help move the flow of traffic,” Smith said.

One goal for the district — and one that might help with parking lot congestion moving forward — is more students riding the buses again.

“We have substantially increased bus ridership, which is great,” Smith said. “People are feeling more comfortable with their children on the bus, which is what we want.”

Smith also detailed problems with a food shortage for one of the high school’s lunch periods. The superintendent reached out to the district’s food service manager.

“He shared with me that while there were food items available, they were out of a number of things,” Smith said. “He is having supply chain issues as well as staffing shortage issues and those have contributed to some of the problems there.”

The Wilton High School PTA also contacted both Smith and high school principal Bob O’Donnell about the lunchroom issues.

Smith said that the district will be reaching out to its food service provider, Chartwells Schools.

The “grab and go” section of the Wilton High School cafeteria will be closed temporarily while the problem is being addressed, Smith said.