Wake County Schools

Wake reports few problems as new school year starts

Posted August 25, 2014 1:29 p.m. EDT
Updated August 25, 2014 10:49 p.m. EDT

— Wake County Public School System administrators reported few problems Monday as thousands of children in traditional-calendar schools returned to class for the first day of the 2014-15 school year.

Lynn Long disputes that assessment, noting that she waited for an hour for a school bus that never came and eventually drove her son to Apex Middle School. Long said the bus stop was changed this year, and she had to search online for information about the new location for the bus stop.

"They like to spin things in their favor and make it sound like things are going well," she said of the district's report of few problems. "Judging by what happened with myself and another bus route that was supposed to stop in our neighborhood – the looks from all the parents taking their kids to school – I don't think that was the case.

School district officials said 99 percent of the 910 buses arrived at schools within 15 minutes of class start times, and "an overwhelming majority" arrived on time. A record 75,000 students are riding buses in the district this year, they said.

Superintendent Jim Merrill said 4,000 bus stops and 116 routes were eliminated this year to save money.

"We found that there were too many stops that were too close to each other, which was wasteful, and we've got to tighten the efficiency," Merrill said.

Officials were trying to sort out what happened to the bus that Long's son was supposed to take, but a district spokeswoman said buses sometimes have substitute drivers who miss a stop – Wake County now has 50 substitute school bus drivers and is recruiting to fill the positions full time – or have mechanical problems that delay the route.

The driver on one route at Dillard Drive Middle School in Cary did not follow the scheduled route, so some students missed the bus.

The school district's Transportation Office plans to make any necessary adjustments to the bus schedules in the coming weeks, officials said, adding that parents should check the district's website for live updates of the location of a bus on a specific route.