BROOKSVILLE — After a brutal first day plagued by late buses, Ray Pinder had an easier time on Tuesday.
"Today's much smoother," Pinder, principal at J.D. Floyd K-8 in Spring Hill, said into his cell phone as he supervised afternoon dismissal.
Monday afternoon, Pinder had to contend with buses that didn't arrive at the school to pick up students until about 80 minutes after the 4:10 p.m. dismissal bell. All but one bus was on time Tuesday, he said.
Pinder's problems were probably among the worst of the "bumps in the road and potholes" on the first day, transportation director Linda Smith said Tuesday morning.
At 5:45 p.m Tuesday, Smith reported: "We had a much better day today."
Monday, some buses at several schools arrived at stops an hour or more late. Smith blamed typical first-day obstacles — in particular, more traffic at schools and more time required to get students on the right buses — combined with the inevitable delays that come with drivers and parents alike getting used to sweeping changes to routes and school bell times.
The new start times, adjusted based on a school's geographic location, allow for double and triple bus routes and saved the district about $750,000. Some drivers serve two or even three schools.
That means schools with later dismissal times like Floyd and Challenger K-8 are at the mercy of earlier routes and any delays get compounded, Smith said.
"Once the first school smooths out then the second one will smooth out," Smith said.
On Tuesday, buses left the compound in Brooksville a little earlier to avoid getting caught, Smith said.
The problems do not necessarily mean the new route system has inherent flaws that need to be fixed, Smith said.
"Now next Monday, if we're still late, then we'll look at solutions," she said.
Superintendent Bryan Blavatt, who carried a radio Monday to monitor transportation dispatch chatter, agreed. He urged parents to be patient in the coming days.
"It's going to take a little while," he said.
Tony Marrero can be reached at (352) 848-1431 or firstname.lastname@example.org.