by Claire Webster
Buses have returned to all of the schools in the Bellbrook-Sugarcreek Schools community with some major changes, causing confusion within the school district.
Buses have also now returned to the high school thanks to passing the levy, which causes many changes in the school district. Each of the schools have now changed the time they start and finish, so the bus drivers can have a good amount of time to run an efficient and safe route. The bus coordinator and the staff had to divide the fleet of buses. According to the district transportation coordinator Jacob Wilhite, “This required our district to move from what is known as a ‘2 tier’ routing plan to a ‘3 tier’ routing plan which spaces out the building start and stop times to be able to transport everyone with fewer drivers (since we are in a national crisis for school bus drivers).”
The buses were late on the first day of school, and teachers had to hold their attendance and wait to start class while their students were dropped off at school. According to Bellbrook sophomore Brock Fortman, “The bus ride is long, and the suggested arrival time is always incorrect by about twenty minutes.”
At Bell Creek Intermediate school, their bus schedule has changed quite frequently. At the beginning of the year, students grades third to fifth were getting to school late, and the buses were late picking up the kids. BCI have changed their schedule to fit in with the bus arrival. They have tried many solutions to this problem, and they have now settled on dismissing the students by bus rather than by grade or class.
Even though students are getting on the bus and being safely transported, they are still getting home late. This is due to a couple of factors. One factor is that there are many students that live out in the country, and their route can usually take an hour to complete safely. “Students getting home a little later than normal or preferred is something that we are actively working on trying to improve. This concern all comes back to a lack of school bus drivers and the ability to only have a certain number of routes available that are safe, and timely,” states Wilhite. “To change our current situation, the district has raised bus driver pay to $21 per hour to attract more candidates, guaranteed 4 hours per day of paid time, and invested in upgrading our fleet to newer model buses. The fact that we have a national school bus driver shortage crisis is what holds back most districts, like us, from expanding or changing routing.”