Most students in the Minneapolis School District will start class Monday. With that will come confusion over the bus a child needs to get on at the end of the day, requests for a different bus stop and many other questions.
The district handles such inquiries through a call center. But last year, internal changes and some understaffing left callers on hold for hours, and thousands of calls went unanswered.
On the first days of school the center received more than 3,000 calls but was able to answer only 1,400.
Administrators are vowing not to let that happen again.
“That is something that is unacceptable,” said Jason Matlock, the district’s director of operational and security services and overseer of the call center.
Matlock says the district has added more staff and translators to increase their call volume this year. They also made more than 21,000 robocalls earlier this week to ask parents to call with questions before the first day of school.
“We were able to get a lot of people connected with the information they needed early,” Matlock said. “It’s a huge win to know we’ve been able to eliminate 500 calls that may have hit us on the first day of school.”
The majority of the phone calls that the center receives are transportation-related. Parents want to know where their child should wait for the bus.
In the afternoon, the center often gets frantic phone calls from parents who say the bus hasn’t arrived or their child wasn’t on the bus.
“Ninety-nine percent of the time, they were on a different bus,” Matlock said.
This year the district plans to send support staff to schools to help students, especially the younger ones, get on the right bus.
Families with school-related questions can reach the district’s call center at 612-668-0000. The center will also operate over the weekend, fielding questions from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.