Raleigh, N.C. — Traditional-calendar students weren't the only ones who headed back to school Monday. Hundreds of Wake County bus drivers also started a new school year Monday.
"You want to be on time, and you want your students to get to know you," said bus driver Marvin Pender.
Many school officials and bus drivers said the day went relatively smoothly, but some parents disagreed.
Parents complained of buses being late or not showing up at all. Students at one stop waited for more than an hour for their bus to arrive.
"They should have told us at orientation, but all they gave us was a list saying what time the route started and pretty much said we have to do the waiting game," said parent Pamela Spruill.
School officials said the first few days might require more flexibility and patience.
"This morning, everything was very late, but that's the first day," said Bugg Elementary School Principal Mary Page. "With traffic, there's a lot of things that cause buses to be late."
Bus driver Elnora Bobo drove three routes Monday morning, one of which was new to her.
"(The students) were there and they were smiling. They were happy to see me. They were OK. I'm OK, and I told them it would get better by the end of the week," Bobo said.
Several buses broke down Monday morning, which led to some of the delays. District leaders said they received hundreds of complaints. Many more parents called the schools directly.
In some cases, the calls went directly to voice mail, but the callers were unable to leave a message because the voice mail box was full.
A WRAL reporter also called and was unable to leave a message.
Besides bus issues, the Wake County Public School System was also dealing with growth. About 5,000 new students came to the system this year, bringing the total number of students to about 140,000.
Three new elementary schools will help with the growth, but there are still capacity concerns at the high school level.
Four schools will be at least 300 students under capacity, and seven schools will be more than 100 students over capacity.
Managing the district’s record growth is one of the biggest challenges for decision-makers. That's why school board members have been outlining a school-construction plan that could pave the way for the next school bond.