YORK COUNTY, Va. (WVEC) -- Parents in York County say there's plenty of room for improvement when it comes to school bus service, and they say the problems are adding up.
Many have concerns about the lack of bus drivers in the county. Some parents say their children are getting home hours after school lets out.
Jennifer Farris has two kids in York County Public Schools. Her main concern is that there are not enough school bus drivers in the county, which forces some school bus drivers to double routes, meaning some students don't get home until late.
That might also mean more kids on a bus than normal.
“When my child comes home and says there were four kids to a seat and they made kids get off, that's a concern,” she said.
Farris said she brought her concerns to the School Division's Transportation Department on several occasions. She took to social media on Wednesday, because she believes nothing is being done.
“I think it's going to take a lot of steps to make change, which is why I went to social media,” Farris said. “They're not addressing the problem at hand.”
There was plenty of reaction to the post.
Brenda Palmer-Smith said she drove school buses for the county for nine years before leaving last August.
“When I worked there, I had to double,” Palmer-Smith said. “I've never had to triple, but I hear that drivers are now tripling, because they're short of drivers.”
York County School Division community and public relations coordinator tells 13News Now in an email that driver shortage is not just a concern for them, it's a concern for school divisions across the state.
The school division acknowledged that a number of bus drivers have been absent in the last few weeks: 15 drivers out on average, each day.
On Wednesday, they were 30 drivers short.
They email also stated, “The division’s standards for transporting students conform to state and federal regulations” and “Our greatest need is currently in the area of substitute drivers.”
The full email is below:
Driver shortage is not just a concern for the York County School Division, it is a concern for school divisions throughout Virginia and across the country. YCSD has been actively recruiting and training both drivers and substitutes. Our greatest need is currently in the area of substitute drivers.
This year has been unique in that we have been experiencing higher than normal absentee rates in the last few weeks – approximately 15 drivers out on average each day.
The flu has affected our students and our staff. On February 15, we experienced an unusually high absentee rate– leaving us 30 drivers short. In these situations, we utilize as many staff members who have the required license (transportation office staff, supervisors, etc.) as possible to fill in and drive routes. Another approach is to double routes, in which additional students are placed on buses.
The division’s standards for transporting students conform to state and federal regulations which state:
The number of pupils who may ride a school bus shall be determined by the total number who can be seated on the seat cushion facing forward, safely seated within the seating compartment, and shall not exceed the manufacturer's capacity. Pupils may not be permitted to stand, except under unforeseen temporary emergency conditions and for short distances as identified in policy by the local school board.
Our Transportation Department routinely reminds drivers to ensure all students are safely seated prior to leaving the school and ask that they report any concerns before moving the bus.
Staff have spoken to the parents who have contacted the school and Transportation Department regarding the cancellation of after-school activities at Yorktown Middle School yesterday due to the in-availability of the activities bus.
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