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Bus driver shortage causing some parents new issue ahead of school year

Published: Jul. 16, 2021 at 4:21 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - The family of one Savannah-Chatham County Public School System (SCCPSS) student said changes to busing are creating big issues with little time to solve them.

Remember, the district is prioritizing certain groups of students due to a bus driver shortage. The district estimated about 5,000 students who use to ride the bus will not be able to this year.

With big changes coming to the Savannah-Chatham bus schedule for the incoming school year several families are forced to make tough decisions less than three weeks from the start of school.

“We’re almost forced to put her in a neighborhood school because it’s a short amount of time we don’t know what other options we have,” parent Shalonda Smith said.

Smith feels stuck after learning her daughter, a rising 10th grader will not be able to take the bus this coming year to Johnson High School. She was accepted into the International Baccalaureate program in eighth grade, a proud accomplishment. But now her spot is in jeopardy as they live 40 minutes from the choice program and her parents work full-time.

“It left me feeling worried, concerned number one of course for her safety, number two how would that affect my job if I had to take her, take off to take her to school or take off to bring her home. It concerns me a whole lot,” Smith said.

SCCPSS leaders say they too are concerned, but it is not an easy fix.

“It’s not a plot, it’s not done to make your life miserable it’s that we don’t literally have the drivers that are coming into our pool in order to transport the kids,” SCCPSS Board President Dr. Joe Buck said.

Dr. Buck said they are looking at alternative approaches and working hard to solve the problem with an intense recruiting strategy for new drivers, pay raises and more. While Smith understands their challenges, she hopes they might consider a virtual option for choice students unable to catch a bus or holding their spot.

“The kids have really worked hard. It’s already been a lot of changes and stress on them and to bring this in the mix I think it would cause more stress on the children and I would just like for them to consider you know other options for them,” Smith said.

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