Wednesday, January 17, 2018
Education

Hillsborough Schools' bus system aggravates parents

Being late is not a great way to begin the new school year.

My second-grader was not late because I couldn't get him out the door on time, but because his bus arrived 30 minutes late.

Instead of being in his classroom at the 8 a.m. start time, he and about 40 other students from Mary E. Bryant Elementary were waiting for the bus.

At first, the parents thought it was just the typical back-to-school confusion combined with extra traffic, but then it happened again the next day.

Not only did they arrive late to school, but they got dropped off 45 minutes late in the afternoon.

Parents stood at the bus stop wondering what was going on.

After hearing rumors that this was going to be a daily occurrence, I, along with a lot of other parents, called the Hillsborough County Public Schools' transportation department. A woman explained to me that they were short 10 bus drivers in our area, and until they could hire those drivers, some buses would do double runs. She could not give me a specific time frame for resolution, but just said it would be "a while."

Another parent was told that they needed to replace last year's driver because he retired.

As parents showed up to the bus stop each day, nobody knew what to expect. One afternoon, a bus driver told us that a bus would pick up the kids at the scheduled time the next morning. The bus did show up, and it was only five minutes late.

Though I was happy about the improvement, I was confused. I had just been told that the bus delays would last a while, and now we had a timely bus. I called to get an update.

The woman told me that they had found a bus for us in the morning, but that the afternoon bus would still be doing double runs. She explained that our kids would be dropped off first, and then the bus would return to school to pick up more kids.

Apparently, there has been a shortage of drivers since last spring. If the school district had notified the parents about the impending problem, it would have eased a lot of aggravation.

When my son received his teacher assignment in the mail prior to school starting, it also contained the bus schedule. There was nothing to indicate any change from last year's route, or that parents should expect double bus runs.

Not knowing about this until the first week of school added to everyone's frustration level.

Also, getting conflicting information from the transportation department was disappointing.

I understand that our school district, the nation's eighth largest, has the huge task of transporting thousands of kids, but parents should be notified of problems.

Students shouldn't have to start out the school year being late for class, and parents shouldn't be left waiting at the bus stop wondering when their child will arrive.

Danielle Hauser is a married mother of two who lives in the Westchase area.

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