Chesterfield alters school bus routes; parents concerned about overcrowding

Chesterfield alters school bus routes; parents concerned about overcrowding

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) - Chesterfield School is changing how it creates bus routes, which will cause some buses to be cut from elementary schools.

“This is going to be the straw that breaks the camel’s back, and I don’t want my child to be on the bus when it happens,” parent Brittany Revels said.

Revels has two sons at Reams Elementary School. She’s furious about a letter sent home announcing changes to her kids’ bus routes.

“It was really vague," Revels said. “I wasn’t sure what was going to go on or anything like that.”

Chesterfield Schools sent the letter home telling parents it is stepping up the way routes are created and switching from handwritten routes to a computer application.

“The Transportation Department is completing a review of our school’s current bus runs, and believes there may be smarter routes that can be used,” the letter said. “During the next few weeks, the transportation team will review potential changes to help determine the accuracy of the computer-generated ride patterns.”

Parent Brittany Revels is concerned about overcrowding on Chesterfield's new bus routes.
Parent Brittany Revels is concerned about overcrowding on Chesterfield's new bus routes. (Source: NBC12)

A second letter was sent when the routes were approved informing parents of the decision.

“Optimization is an action of making the best or most effective use of a situation or resource, in this case, bus runs,” the letter said. “Please check carefully for any bus time or bus number changes. Every attempt was made to keep buses the same and stops in the same location.”

The letter also includes the new bus number, pickup time and bus stop for the affected students.

“These changes should provide a bus stop within walking distances outlined in the school division’s guidelines (0.5 miles for secondary, 0.3 miles for elementary),” the letter said.

Both letters can be seen below.

Officials say it will make the routes more efficient, but parents fear possible overcrowding.

“Buses are already packed. They are already full,” Revels said.

Alberta Smith Elementary, Davis Elementary, Harrowgate Elementary and Reams Elementary will all see the change starting Monday.

Reams Elementary School will go from nine buses to seven.

Reams Road Elementary School.
Reams Road Elementary School. (Source: NBC12)

The school system says it’s all a part of optimizing the routes.

“My son has ADHD and he doesn’t adjust to change very well. He has to be prepared,” Revels said.

It’s not just parents upset. Revels said several bus drivers fear the change.

“She (bus driver) is upset because they are taking several routes away and condensing the routes," Revels said. “That’s going to make the buses more packed. What happens if you have to slam on breaks and there are more kids on board, kids are going to go flying. Someone is going to get hurt and God forbid there’s an accident."

A representative for the school system said the new system will prevent bus overcrowding, but parents aren’t hopping on board with that idea just yet.

“I want answers, I want the truth, and I want my child to be safe, and I want that to be your main priority,” Revels said.

With just around 40 days left in school, parents want to make sure students have a safe end to the school year.

“You can not guarantee my child’s safety at all, and that’s nothing I’m going to stand for. Period,” Revels said.

The school system says this was a decision made at the November School Board meeting, and officials sent a letter both Thursday and before spring break.

Parents say all of this is coming as a surprise and wish they had more input on the matter.

The letters sent to parents by Chesterfield Schools are below:

A letter sent to parents from Chesterfield County Schools.
A letter sent to parents from Chesterfield County Schools. (Source: Chesterfield County Schools)
A letter sent to parents from Chesterfield County Schools.
A letter sent to parents from Chesterfield County Schools. (Source: Chesterfield County Schools)

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