Seeing bus problems solved

Published 8:10 pm Monday, September 7, 2015

After a few years of persistent problems with transportation, Suffolk Public Schools is taking additional steps this year to make sure its buses can get students to school and back home on time.

The addition of GPS systems to the bus fleet this year, at a cost of $200,000, is one of those steps. Using the systems, school officials will be able to collect data on the time it takes for students to be transported to and from school, respond more quickly to late buses and see exactly where a certain bus is.

Another point of progress in the system’s transportation system is that all bus driver positions have been filled, with only a few substitute positions outstanding, according to what school division spokeswoman Bethanne Bradshaw told a Suffolk News-Herald reporter last week.

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That means fewer drivers will be attempting to be in two places at once, pulling double duty among multiple schools.

The problems starting with a proposal for the 2013-14 school year that put Suffolk’s public schools on four different bell times — one each for half the elementary schools, one for the middle schools and one for the high schools. The proposal was expected to eliminate 30 bus driver positions and saved $865,000, but it created a host of other problems. Buses were extremely late or never came, meaning students missed school in the morning, and they returned students home far later in the evening than they were supposed to.

Some tweaks to the schedules have been made in the interim, but the driver shortage remained a problem that contributed to the ongoing issues.

With the improvement in the number of bus drivers and other issues that contributed to the district’s transportation problems, we expect and hope to see a much improved transportation system this year.