Afternoon Edition: CPS short on bus drivers — again

Today’s update is about an eight-minute read that will brief you on the day’s biggest stories.

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Chicago Public Schools has about half the bus drivers it needs to transport students for the upcoming school year, which begins Aug. 21.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Good afternoon, Chicago. ✶

If you happened to stop by the Weiner’s Circle for a quick bite to eat Saturday, you may have noticed a new face behind the counter.

No, it wasn’t a fresh-faced trainee — it was none other than British singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran, trying his hand at serving some Chicago-style hot dogs ahead of his sold-out Soldier Field gig later that night.

Crowds quickly packed the Chicago institution, of course. But if they thought they could linger for an extended moment with their idol, employees showcased some of that classic, expletive-laden Weiner’s Circle charm and told fans to keep it moving.

Before you get moving, here are the stories you need to know this afternoon.

⏱️: A 7-minute read

— Matt Moore, newsletter reporter (@MattKenMoore)


TODAY’S TOP STORY

Chicago Public Schools facing bus driver shortage just weeks before classes resume

Reporting by Nereida Moreno

Help wanted: Chicago Public Schools says it only has about half the bus drivers it needs to transport all students when classes resume Aug. 21. The district has been struggling with a nationwide bus driver shortage since the pandemic, causing hardship for students and families.

CPS’ solution: The district is prioritizing students who are legally required to receive transportation, including those with special needs and kids in temporary living situations. About 7,000 of these students have already signed up, and all will have service by the first day of class, CPS said. Students who have not yet been routed will receive $25 per school day. They can also opt to receive a monthly transportation stipend of up to $500.

Who won’t have a ride to school: Students in magnet or selective-enrollment programs will not get bus service. Instead, those students and one parent or guardian can get free CTA cards. In an email to parents, the school district said, “If CPS is successful in expanding transportation capacity, we may be able to add some of these students to routes.”

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BACK TO SCHOOL ✏️

Parents and students arrive at Willa Cather Elementary School, 2908 W. Washington Blvd. in East Garfield Park, for the first day of school for Chicago Public Schools, Monday morning, Aug. 22, 2022.

Parents and students arrive at Willa Cather Elementary School in East Garfield Park for the first day of school last year. This school year comes as new education laws are on the books.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Reporting by Nader Issa

In other school news, Illinois has passed a number of new laws that have either already gone into effect or are set to kick in during the new school year.

Here are a few new laws to be aware of. Head here for a fuller list.

Book bans: Illinois became the first state to prohibit book bans in a bill Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed in June, which takes effect in 2024. Public libraries can lose funding if a book is taken off the shelves for personal, political or religious reasons.

Bullying: In June, a new law kicked in requiring schools to inform all the parents or guardians of students involved in alleged bullying incidents within 24 hours after administrators learn of it. The law also expands the definition of bullying to include harassment based on such things as physical appearance, socioeconomic or academic status, pregnancy and homelessness.

Mental health: A new law took effect in July requiring contact information for the Safe2Help Illinois helpline to be on student identification cards. The hotline is a 24/7 program developed by the state to give students various ways — via app, text, call or website — to share personal school safety issues.

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WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON?

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Interim Chicago Police Department Supt. Fred Waller.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

  • Top cop’s past domestic violence complaint resurfaces: Interim Chicago Police Department Supt. Fred Waller was accused of domestic violence by his ex-wife in 1994, but she ultimately stopped cooperating with an internal probe into the incident, and the department soon concluded that her complaint was “not sustained,” WBEZ reports.
  • Northwestern hires former U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch: The former attorney general will review Northwestern’s abuse-reporting mechanisms in the wake of a football team hazing scandal that has resulted in a half-dozen lawsuits against the school.
  • Weed giants call off plans for $2 billion merger: Chicago-based Cresco Labs and Columbia Care of New York — two cannabis industry leaders — citing a changing market and industry, said that calling off the deal was best for both firms.
  • Shedd Aquarium details major renovation project: The Shedd Aquarium’s yearslong renovation plan will include new immersive exhibits with bilingual signs and updated animal habitats. This summer marks the start of the eight-year, $500 million transformation, with a goal to be finished in time for the aquarium’s centennial anniversary.
  • College-bound students get school essentials: More than 100 incoming first-year college students were gifted a trunk filled with a laptop, bedding, a backpack and other supplies at the South Shore Cultural Center, thanks to Ada S. McKinley Community Services.
  • Lollapalooza aftershow tickets up for grabs: Lollapalooza starts up Thursday, and in the festival’s tradition, a stacked list of aftershows at some of Chicago’s music venues are set to run throughout the week. While some shows have already sold out, we’ve got a full rundown of the performances with tickets still available.

BRIGHT ONE ✨

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Elvin Bishop (left) and Charlie Musselwhite. The duo are set to perform at Ravinia Thursday.

Steve Jennings

Charlie Musselwhite and Elvin Bishop — ‘front porch’ bluesmen celebrate their Chicago music roots

Reporting by Bobby Reed

When Elvin Bishop and Charlie Musselwhite return to the Chicago area for Thursday’s concert at Ravinia, it will be a homecoming of sorts.

Both musicians lived in Chicago in the early 1960s, an era when they were developing their craft by observing blues titans like Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf and Big Joe Williams.

Bishop, 80, and Musselwhite, 79, are now members of the Blues Foundation’s Blues Hall of Fame.

Bishop, who sings and plays guitar, was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2015 as a member of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band. Musselwhite is recognized as one of the world’s greatest harmonica players.

At Ravinia, the duo will be joined by multi-instrumentalist Bob Welsh for a set featuring songs from their 2020 collaborative album “100 Years of Blues.” Released by the Chicago label Alligator Records, the album topped the Billboard blues album chart and received a Grammy nomination.

The lyrics to the autobiographical title track include references to Pepper’s Lounge and Silvio’s, two long-gone Chicago blues clubs that served as the musicians’ training grounds.

“With all the different bands happening, it was a great scene for a young musician who was ambitious and wanted to develop a little bit,” Bishop said.

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YOUR DAILY QUESTION ☕️

What Chicago city job do you feel is underappreciated? Tell us why.

Email us (please include your first and last name and where you live). To see the answers to this question, check our Morning Edition newsletter. Not subscribed to Morning Edition? Sign up here so you won’t miss a thing!


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Editor: Ellery Jones

Newsletter reporter: Matt Moore

Copy editor: Angie Myers

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