With school starting next week, Henrico County is trying to tackle the problem of students on the school bus arriving late. It was a big problem last year, especially in the western part of the county.
Several parents said they had a number of problems with the school buses last year. Now transportation leaders say they've made moves to make sure that doesn't happen again.
In Tuckahoe, Hunter Ukrop is going to Byrd Middle School and his sister Lexi is going into the fourth grade at Davis Elementary. They could take the bus, but their mom says no. That decision is based upon what happened last year.
"The buses were late in the morning, they were late in the afternoon," said Suetessa Ukrop. "Really late! Like an hour or so later."
Hunter says he sometimes missed the first half hour of class.
"I don't like being late and catching up to all of the work," he said.
In some cases, parents say it was dark by the time some students got home. Henrico school leaders say that's not going to happen this year.
"We feel much more confident in our ability to cover every route with the driver on the first day of school," said Josh Davis, the HCPS director of Pupil Transportation.
The county said a shortage of bus drivers, new bus routes and a staggered bell schedule were to blame last year. The biggest problems were at Freeman High, Tuckahoe and Byrd middle schools, and Ridge and Davis elementary schools.
"We've worked really hard to recruit and train new bus drivers," said Davis.
Davis said this time around, drivers are getting better training and time to become familiar with their routes.
"I'm glad they're going to take the initiative," said Suetessa Ukrop.
It's a proactive approach that will play out in just one week. The first day of school is September 3.
School leaders also want to remind parents with children starting kindergarten to bring a photo ID when they're dropping off and picking up their child at the bus stop. This will help drivers make sure children are being released to the right people.
To find your child's school bus route, click here: http://www.henrico.k12.va.us/Transportation/BusRoutes.html
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