JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Neighbors say school buses across Jacksonville are showing up late to pick up kids to go to school, which is making their education suffer because they’re also late to class.
Action News Jax has been digging into school bus issues for months now, since the start of the school.
Johnathon Druge lives on the Southside and he worries for Duval students who catch the bus by his apartment complex off Old Baymeadows Road.
“There’s a good amount of kids out here,” he said. “This morning, [the bus] was 45 minutes late.”
This morning, we caught up with another mom, Teresa Urquhart and her daughter, 10-year-old Treonna Pitt, on the Westside who have been dealing with the same issue.
“The bus all of a sudden not showed up as of last Wednesday,” Urquhart said.
She explained the original pick-up time is 7:40 a.m. We waited for an hour and the bus didn’t show.
Between Urquhart and another mom, they scooped up all the elementary kids and took them to school by 8:30 a.m. That’s when classes start.
“I personally feel like it’s a problem because what about the kids that can’t get to school and really want their education,” Pitt said.
“It’s ridiculous,” Druge said. “They could be late to school, they could be missing their breakfast at school. Some parents, they drop their kids off here and go to work and if the bus doesn’t show up, their kids are out here,” he described.
DCPS Assistant Superintendent of Operations Paul Soares told us yesterday: “We’re short up to 50 drivers on any given day and that requires us to combine routes and provide schools with service that have the shortest time, maybe 20 minutes. So we can then cycle back to the school that’s not covered, might be 20 minutes late but far better than no bus coverage at all.”
DCPS is actively hiring and offering recruiting and retention plan bonuses.
“I think they need to offer more bonuses,” Druge said.
“I understand it’s a shortage but you can do more than sending out a notice that there’s a shortage,” Urquhart asserted.
“It’s not fair that kids have to wait after school on a cold hard ground floor when you should be able to go home and get something warm to eat,” Pitt noted. “Please just do something more and help us,” she added.
Both buses in question are from two different companies. The one on the Westside is from Student Transportation of America, and Drug says the one that picks up at his complex is from Durham School Services. They’re subcontracted by DCPS.
DCPS has confirmed that students will not be counted as tardy due to a late bus and that they’re still looking to hire more school bus drivers.
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