We’re sorry that happened. Transportation assigns the bus to specific routes. However, with the shortage of bus drivers and the last minute adjustments to routes, any change in bus number may not have been communicated to parents as well as it could have been.
Most of the district’s school buses run two routes, an elementary and secondary route.
In addition to the two routes (elementary and secondary) that most drivers drive each day, we have drivers now driving the same route three times due to our driver shortage.
This week, we also had 25 school buses service calls, including one bus that broke down twice, once while driving the elementary route and once while driving the secondary route, on the same day.
During the first week of school, several things happen each year.
• Parents and students are learning the school bus morning pick up routine and adjusting to getting their children to the pick up spots on time.
• Students are learning their school bus number and their school’s drop off and pick up procedures.
• The first few days of school, more parents drive their children to school and pick their children up from school adding to the morning traffic around schools.
• Once these children begin to ride the bus, then they are also learning their school bus number and their school’s drop off and pick up procedures.
• During the day Tuesday, the first day of school, an additional 270 parents applied for bus transportation. Transportation then had to add those 270 children to the existing bus routes.
Actually, South Carolina has owned, fueled, and maintained the fleet of school buses that transport students to public schools since the 1950s.
The South Carolina Department of Education’s Transportation Office simply counts the number of seats on the buses already assigned to the district.
Then, they divide a district’s total number of bus drivers by the number of seats.
Should the number of riders exceed the number of seats, the district qualifies for additional buses. Keep in mind, however, that those additional buses are determined by the number of seats the district still needs — not the number of buses by location.
To over simplify, if the district had 5,000 bus riders and 70 buses assigned to the district with each bus having a capacity of 50 seats — according to the state’s formula, we would still need 1,500 seats. The state would award us with 30 more buses.
However, this does not take into consideration the location of the seats needed in any one area, which might not divide equally.
We have 15 openings for bus drivers — six in the White Knoll area, two in the Gilbert area, three in the Pelion area and four in the Lexington area.
Always call the office where your child’s bus is housed. The district has four of those — one in Gilbert, Pelion, White Knoll and Lexington.
Keep in mind that the district transports about 16,000 children each day by bus (about 60% of our students). Transportation answers the telephones as quickly as they can while helping many parents with their questions.
We continue to advertise for bus drivers, train them and put them on the road.
We use substitutes whenever possible. But, because we still need 15 bus drivers and do not have 15 substitutes, we obviously have some bus routes with no driver.
In neighborhoods or other locations with privately maintained roads, the homeowners association or a property owner must sign a waiver that allows the school bus to come into the neighborhood and pick up their students and does not hold the state liable for damage to the road, etc.
We’re sorry that happened. Usually, the Transportation Office lets the school bus administrator at each school know what is happening so that the school can make sure you know.
Quite frankly, we believe breakdowns in communication occurred on both sides this week.