Wake County Schools

Wake school board to discuss bus problems

Posted August 30, 2012

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— The Wake County Board of Education will discuss problems with back-to-school busing at its meeting next week, members said Thursday.

Complaints have poured into the school district's offices since traditional-calendar schools returned to classes on Monday about buses getting students to school late and not bringing them home for hours after classes have dismissed – and some that never showed up at their assigned stops.

WRAL News talked to a bus driver Wednesday who said the route he was given is difficult to keep on schedule.

“First couple of days are always rough," Spencer Jenkins said. "But I will say this, this is the worst I’ve ever seen it."

Jenkins, who has been driving a bus for Wake County for more than 10 years, said his six-stop route in 2011 ballooned to 20 at the beginning of this school year.

More than 900 Wake County school buses transport 75,000 to 80,000 students per day and make about 25,000 stops. The district took dozens of buses out of service this year to cut costs, maintain efficiency and keep state funding.

Officials say the busing situation is getting better every day, but some school board members said they want to talk about the concerns they have been hearing.

"We have heard from our share," board Vice Chairman Keith Sutton said.

Board member John Tedesco didn't even have to leave his house to field a complaint – his son was on one of the late buses.

"My own wife was saying, 'What are you doing?'" Tedesco said.

Wake school bus generic Bus problems get attention of Wake school board

Parents of students in year-round schools are skeptical of the district's promises that the situation will improve soon, saying that they have been dealing with late buses for weeks.

"We are concerned about them spending hours on the bus," said Derrick Burr, whose two children still arrive home almost an hour late every day.

Sutton said the combination of thousands of new students, several new schools, a new assignment plan and fewer buses have combined to aggravate the busing problems usually seen at the start of the school year.

"You've got a convergence of factors that I think has probably – clearly – overstressed the system," he said.

The district must keep a level of efficiency to keep millions of dollars in state funding. Tedesco said the efficiency formula is set by comparing different districts across North Carolina, but he said none can compare to Wake County, which is the 16th largest public school system in the country.

"We had to remove some buses from the road (and) put more children on each bus to drive up that efficiency rating," he said. "I think the state formula for the efficiency rating is wrong. It does not serve districts well."

To fix the problem, Sutton said, more buses may need to get back on the road. Four buses have been added already at a cost of about $250,000, and he said another 20 or so could be added without going over budget for the year.

"We are trying to get to the bottom of (the busing problems) and see what happened," he said.

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  • injameswetrust2003 Aug 31, 2012

    Don't forget Benedict Goldman's "No" vote which stopped several months of work on zone busing 2 years ago and flushed thousands of dollars and hours of WCPSS staff labor down the toilet. We would not have had the bus issues this past week. Before I vote for a school bond I need to know my money is being well spent. This isn't it.

  • karbattle1 Aug 31, 2012

    Vote the democrats out and send your kid to the closest school. Problem solved.

  • due_whats_right Aug 31, 2012

    How about we do what they did in the old days and let the parents worry about transporting their own? I am not sure who is whining more the - students or the parents. If you are that "done" with the school system, move or transport your kid. I grew up riding the bus and not once did my parents complain about how long I was on the bus. Students, time this time to catch up on some sleep, socialize, read a book, or - here's a good one - do your homework! Then when you get home you have time for dinner and then off to bed. Make use of the time and stop the crying. Parents, stop punking these kids, it is not going to kill them to "ride" - not walk" but ride a bus for an hour. If you lived in the city you may ride longer than that to get to school or work. This is what is making our kid soft - the parents! Man up!

  • Spongebob Aug 31, 2012

    "Hey Teddy its not the formula that is wrong it was your assignment plan that was wrong then you tried to cover up the cost of the plan by removing several busses. Take responsibility for what you and Margotta did and fix it with the little time on the board you have left!!! ChicoDusty"

    Actually can somebody please clarify? I thought the board decided on a "Neigborhood School" plan but then it turned into this choice school mess. When did it change? I have friends who got their first choice which is 3 times the distance as their previous school who are getting bus service for minimal students. Doesn't make sense.

  • Spongebob Aug 31, 2012

    "Another bus driver trying to protect the status quo instead of giving Tata's new plan a chance.
    ConservativeVoter"

    My kids don't even ride the bus and I can see this plan has no chance.

  • As if .... Aug 31, 2012

    Tiblet... AMEN to that!!

  • tiblet Aug 31, 2012

    I think we should go back to the model where we have "home base" schools. Everyone should be guaranteed transportation to their home base school. If you CHOOSE to go somewhere else (magnet, charter, year round, etc) then you are responsible for your child's transportation to that school.

  • As if .... Aug 31, 2012

    How about i let you drive 140 kids on the afternoon shift on a Friday afternoon between 3 schools in the middle of non stop traffic . Really ? No , yeah i thought so .

  • ConservativeVoter Aug 31, 2012

    "Worker sabotage??? Are you kidding? We are pushing our routes to the limit ,every other bus driver that i talk to says that this was the worst week ever ! They make us go all over Raleigh to take kids home from school ,in traffic that is a nightmare at 2:30 in the afternoon! Don't these people realize how many cars and trucks there are out there competing for the same roads? The Durant road ,Capital blvd crossing sometimes makes you wait thru 2 light cycles which is 6 to 7 minutes idling ,multiply that by 60 mile overall route periods and you have buses showing up at schools 45 minutes after the last bell!! Ridicules . Conservative voter needs to stop listening to GOP propaganda. - As if ...."

    Another bus driver trying to protect the status quo instead of giving Tata's new plan a chance.

  • As if .... Aug 31, 2012

    Worker sabotage??? Are you kidding?
    We are pushing our routes to the limit ,every other bus driver that i talk to says that this was the worst week ever ! They make us go all over Raleigh to take kids home from school ,in traffic that is a nightmare at 2:30 in the afternoon! Don't these people realize how many cars and trucks there are out there competing for the same roads? The Durant road ,Capital blvd crossing sometimes makes you wait thru 2 light cycles which is 6 to 7 minutes idling ,multiply that by 60 mile overall route periods and you have buses showing up at schools 45 minutes after the last bell!! Ridicules .
    Conservative voter needs to stop listening to GOP propaganda.

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