Cary, N.C. — More school buses hit the road in Wake County on Tuesday in an attempt by the school district to answer parent complaints about long delays, long rides and no-show buses that plagued the first week of school for students on a traditional calendar.
Complaints have poured into the school district's offices since classes started Aug. 27.
After initial complaints, the district added four buses to its routes on Tuesday and another seven on Friday. By Tuesday, a total of 915 buses were serving Wake County schools, according to a statement from district Director of Public Relations Mike Charbonneau.
"Drivers of the new or altered routes practiced the runs over the weekend to be prepared for Tuesday," Charbonneau said.
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 while maintaining efficiency.
The district must maintain a balance of spending on buses and drivers – a formula that compares different districts across North Carolina determines efficiency – to keep millions of dollars in state funding.
Each extra bus costs the school district $70,000, Charbonneau said. The district also could lose about $3.5 million in state efficiency funds because of the additional buses, he said.
"The state formula for the efficiency rating is wrong," Wake County school board member John Tedesco said. "It does not serve districts well."
The Wake County Board of Education plans to discuss the bus situation at its meeting Tuesday, and officials said the board also will look at the related funding issues.
Watch Tuesday's work session, scheduled to begin at 4 p.m., and full board meeting, scheduled for 5:30 p.m., live on WRAL.com.
Superintendent Tony Tata said Friday that more buses are needed to ensure students are taken to school and returned home in a timely manner.
“There are no excuses for what happened, and we are committed to fixing the problem,” Tata said in a statement. “If we determine more buses are needed, we will continue to add them until the issue is resolved.”