School buses overcrowded in the Lowcountry - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

School buses overcrowded in the Lowcountry

BEAUFORT CO., SC (WTOC) -

Just days into the school year, parents in the Lowcountry are frustrated because their children are being forced to ride on overcrowded school buses, the buses are not arriving on schedule and are in poor condition.

Parents are hoping for a solution, not only because it’s uncomfortable for the kids, but they think it’s dangerous for buses to be that crowded. They say students are riding in school buses where they have to ride three, and even four people per seat. When the seats are filled, some children are left standing up or sitting in the aisle.  

One parent says she understands it’s the first week of school and she expects some confusion, but the uncomfortable bus situations are putting parents in a tight spot.

“They need some more buses over here. There’s just too many kids. It’s terrible. I wouldn’t ride a bus like that and I feel awful that I have to send my kids on those buses, but all three of them go to three different schools. They start at three different times. How can I choose which kid I’m going to drive to school? Just to be fair, I put them all on the bus. It’s terrible,” said Jennifer Kepner, parent. 

Parents in Bluffton say it’s been a headache sending their children to school this week.

“The overcrowding is a big one, the bus is not being on time, there’s no system,” said Kepner. “The whole system is flawed.”

Kepner, a parent of three, said it’s the end of the week and the problems haven’t been dealt with.

“You shouldn’t have to worry when you put kids on a bus to send them to school and I come home and I sit here for 45 minutes until I know that they’re safe in the building,” she said. “I worry about them.”

Kepner says what makes the overcrowding worse is that there’s no air conditioning on the bus.

“They’re putting three kids in a seat in a high school bus, those are some bigger kids,” Kepner said. “I mean that’s an uncomfortable squish, and no air, so it’s 95 degrees out, it’s probably 100 something inside the bus.”

District officials say there are some issues at the beginning of every year, and it takes some time to iron them out.  

“We transport more than 11,000 students every day,” said Jim Foster with the Beaufort County School District. “In the first few days of each school year are always a little confusing because we don’t really know what we’re going to get in terms of numbers until the kids actually get on the bus, but after three or four days it settles out and we get it under control.”

District officials say they understand the parents’ concerns, but they want them to know their kids are in good, safe hands.

“Parents need to remember that there is no safer way to take your child from school, to school, than on a school bus,” said Foster.

The school district says most of the bus issues are addressed within the first weeks of school, and if parents have any issues during the remainder of the year, contact Durham Bus Services at 843.322.0770. 

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