School bus driver shortages are impacting many school districts heading into the new year.
In June, we reported that the Westmont Hilltop School District announced it would change distances students have to walk.
Mckenzie Jarrel has more on what the school district came up with and how parents are reacting.
“Since January of last school year our bus contractor, Mcllwain school bus lines been contacting communicating with us about the bus driver shortage and how we were looking at that for the upcoming school year.”
This is Thomas Mitchell, the Superintendent for the Westmont Hilltop School District. The current Westmont Hilltop bus schedule was just approved and a lot has changed since last school year.
“And so this year over the summer we worked real hard with our contractor through our software Triversa and we were able to eliminate some of the bus runs to decrease the number of drivers needed.”
Last year the school district depended on substitute drivers to get students to and from school due to the lack of drivers. This school year, the bus route changes will only use 11 bus runs and walking zones will be no more that three quarters of a mile for elementary and 1 mile for secondary students. That’s shorter than the state requirements that would allow them to expand that distance to 2 miles.
“We’re very fortunate in our area. This is a residential community, a bedroom community. So, the walking paths, there are sidewalks readily available so it is very convenient for walking students.”
Although school officials believe the walking zones to be safe, some parents disagree.
“I think that they’re not addressing the school bus situation adequately.”
“There have been many parents who have voiced their concerns to me and they are refusing to have their kids walk in any direction.”
This is Patrick O’Connor, the father of a student and part of a Facebook group full of concerned parents with children in the district. He says one major concern for this school year is the bus driver shortage and the walking zones
not being safe. Another parent says she wishes walking zones had
“Less cars, less traffic, something where theres safe sidewalks to walk on.”
“They could potentially face, if something bad does happen , that they, there could be legal consequences that I wouldn’t want for anyone to happen to, you know. Especially if someone is injured that’s the biggest thing. Is the safety of the situation.”