SCCPSS short 'cleared' drivers but say ready to roll next week

SCCPSS short 'cleared' drivers but say ready to roll next week

CHATHAM CO., GA (WTOC) - Next Wednesday, it is show time for Savannah-Chatham County Public Schools - who had to cram a lot into a little time - making sure your children get to and from school safely.

Djiuana Childs is just one of a few hundred new bus drivers and monitors taking part in orientation this week at SCCPSS, learning district policy and procedure.

"So far so good. A lot of little changes. We are getting adapted," said Childs.

"Our team is committed to making sure those buses are safe and they are roll ready," said Deputy Superintendent Vanessa Kaigler.

The district had $4 million and only four months to make it happen. From hiring to routes, to fixing and replacing a fleet of buses, Kaigler says summer school bus routes - and what they call efficiency runs - were used this summer to work out some kinks.

"We had drivers out on the road. There is a dead end here, there could be a safety issue here, giving us a chance to correct it prior to the start of school," said Kaigler.

The school district right now is at 83 percent for their operating fleet. The highest level it has been in years. Some of them are new, others repaired. It puts them at 400 road ready buses.

On the other hand, they have 316 bus drivers and 337 routes and they want to have many more bus drivers.

"Our goal is to have a 10 to 15 percent bench. Life happens, people call in sick," Kaigler said.

Many drivers have not cleared the hiring process yet. While they wait - Wednesday is sneaking up - practice runs begin and no matter how well the first day goes, Kaigler expects parent complaints.

"We want them to be happy and if there is something they are not happy about we want to know so we can address it," said Kaigler.

"Be patient. Be patient because I'm a parent of a child, I had to be patient. And communicate effectively with your bus driver," said Childs.

Some rules for these new district employees: No phones or Bluetooth headset or ear pieces allowed. The buses are also tracked by a GPS system called Zonar.

Eventually, parents will be able to track the buses to with an app on their smartphone.

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